In the 21st century, various researches done in the field of neuroscience point out that traditional methods of classroom teaching are not as stimulating and effective in supporting student learning as predicted earlier. The traditional classroom setup is simply not engaging enough for the students’ brains to optimize their learning and help them realize their learning potential. Eventually such findings motivated educational researchers and policy makers to develop and experiment with different approaches to classroom learning. Among the ones which stand out is brain-based learning, which is a unique, research backed approach to learning, developed in order to support student learning in a better manner.
Over the past few years, the role of technology and innovation in the field of education has increased. Educational institutions today are readily adopting new school management system and technological teaching tools such as eLearning portals, smart classes, LMS portals and likewise in order to support student learning in an effective manner. Brain-based learning is designed to make use of modern technological tools and instructional strategies to maximize student learning while keeping them engaged and interested towards learning. It is a teaching method which restricts the time dedicated to lectures and replaces it with various active and engaging learning activities such as group exercises, peer learning, project-based learning and likewise. As the name suggests, brain-based teaching works by exploiting the neuroplasticity of our brain, which means to remap or rewire the neural connections in the brain when gaining new knowledge.
Since brain-based learning is based on using the neuroplasticity of the brain to the students’ advantage, it is important to keep in mind some core principles of this learning approach which help in promoting neuroplasticity, in order to truly maximize student learning. It is proven that exercise and movement may help rejuvenate the brain and improve learning. A brain-based learning curriculum allows students to take breaks during learning and simply walk or do any form of light exercise, which helps them in recharging their batteries and improves their attention span, thereby improving the quality of their learning. Another important aspect of learning is that inciting positive emotions in learners almost always improves their performance, as a happy learner is often able to use their brain at its maximal capacity. In other words, they think more effectively. Therefore, affirmations from educators can go a long way in building self-esteem in the students while enhancing their learning outcomes.
Brain-based learning curriculums also encourage group work and team-based activities. The reason behind it is simply that working in close conjunction with other students allows the students to learn new things from one another. Students’ brains are often able to gain new knowledge and retain information which they would most likely miss out during a lecture. Brain-based teaching also limits the fraction of teaching time dedicated to lectures as some evidence suggests that less than 10 percent of information delivered to students in a lecture is actually retained by them. Brain-based learning focuses on promoting a more discussion-based approach to classroom teaching which supports student learning in a more effective manner.
One of the most critical factors dictating student learning success is their level of stress. Various researches based on MRI brain scans show that stress changes the chemical composition of the brain and also causes hormonal changes in the body such as spiking our cortisol levels. Chronic stress is not only bad for our physical health, it directly affects our ability to understand, absorb and retain new information. Often the more stressed a student is, the lower is their capacity to retain the information they learn and it affects their class performance and causes further stress to the students, thereby creating a vicious cycle. Therefore, brain-based learning strategy focuses on keeping the classroom environment calm and student friendly so that the students can dedicate their complete attention towards gaining new knowledge. Another effective way to enhance student attention and learning is by stimulating their mind so that they enjoy their learning. It could be with a witty joke or using games to teach in the class, educators should try to stimulate students’ brains in order to maximize their learning outcomes.
Brain-based learning is a research-backed way of inculcating a learning environment in the classroom which is in accordance with the way nature intended our brains to work and therefore is quite effective in enhancing the student learning outcomes and academic performance.