Whole Brain Learning Theory in Education

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Introverts find energy in the inner world of ideas, concepts, and abstraction. Introverts are concentrators and reflective thinkers; they want to understand the world.


While they can be sociable, they need to be left alone to recharge their batteries. Extraverts find energy in things and people. They prefer interactions with people and are action oriented. This layer is used to distinguish between the perceptual and information-processing styles that influence learning. Perceptual preferences differentiate between the preferred ways of attaining information.

Visual students do not remember well what they only hear. They extract detail from the background, remembering faces rather than names. They are very imaginative, with a keen visual memory. These students need to see the facilitator's body language and facial expressions to understand the content.

Wendy VanHosen, Assistant Principal, Suffolk, Virginia

They usually sit in the front of the room and take copious notes, are neat and clean, but often doodle, and need a quiet environment to learn their best. They may think in pictures and learn best from visual displays, including diagrams, illustrated textbooks, overhead transparencies, videos, flipcharts, and handouts Auditory students often do better talking to a colleague or tape recorder and hearing what was said.

They have difficulty with reading and writing tasks. For auditory students, information that has been written down will have little meaning until it has been heard. They do not form a mental picture but remember the way a word sounds. These students often remember names but not faces, do not take notes in class, hum or talk to themselves when bored or concentrating, read aloud under their breath, enjoy talking, and will often do well in a noisy environment Kinesthetic students require whole body movement and real-life experience to absorb and retain material to be learned.

These students learn best when they are totally involved. Acting, puppetry, and drama are excellent examples of kinesthetic learning. Other methods are using building, designing, visiting, interviewing, and playing as instructional methods Students have different preferences for processing information. Sequential students are reflective, convergent students who prefer learning material to be serial or sequential. They can easily separate important details from a complex or confusing background. They tend to rely on themselves and their own thought system when solving problems.

They appear to be more active, autonomous, self-motivated, and task oriented in their approach to life. Analytic students resist distractions and have a longer attention span and greater reflectivity than global students have. They tend to be more sedentary and prefer formal learning situations. They can be very competitive. They are usually not so skilled in interpersonal relationships 38 , 40 , Global students are impulsive, divergent students and prefer learning material to give a holistic view and to be randomly presented Global students find it difficult to see the parts in a whole.

They are sensitive to social cues without being alerted to them. They are interpersonally oriented and rely heavily on external stimuli. This motivates them to look toward others for reinforcement of opinions and attitudes.

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These students have a short attention span, are easily distracted, and like informal learning situations. They respond to learning environments that evoke their feelings and experience. They are less achievement oriented and competitive than sequential students. For them, learning is a social experience 38 , 40 , Concrete students use real materials and examples for learning; they deal with physical expression of information. They are hands-on experiential students, and they need examples, models, and templates.

Abstract people prefer pictures and explanations. They learn through lectures and accept theory well. They are book students, enjoying metaphorical expression 27 , The learning process has to pass through the four brain quadrants within the cognitive domain. Within each of these quadrants, one of the stages of Kolb's learning cycle describes the learning events that need to take place.

Each of the quadrants can also be related to a constructivist activity. The left limbic quadrant represents logical activities.

Whole Brain Teaching: Learning the Way the Brain is Designed

It is the brain quadrant responsible for sensing and experiencing new information through inquiry. The left cortical quadrant is where observations and reflections take place and requires critical thinking. The right cortical quadrant is for abstract analysis and allows for lateral thinking, whereas activities in the right limbic quadrant are for taking action and solving problems. The outer layer of the proposed model refers to instructional and environmental preferences.

The instructional preferences that are referred to are used to distinguish between face-to-face and technology-assisted learning. Advances in educational technology have made it possible to implement blended teaching, incorporating both face-to-face and technology-assisted instructional intervention. Face-to-face interventions can combine lecturing, cooperative group activities, tutorials, and practical sessions, whereas technology-assisted learning can be used to create vivid, playful, interactive learning environments that support multimedia presentations as well as adaptive online exercises and virtual discussions that allow for greater student control of learning Technology-assisted learning can be used effectively in physiology by including simulations of experimental procedures and making use of interactive animations of physiological processes.

Neither of these instructional strategies have been proven to be more effective than the other under all circumstances; however, they can be used to complement each other All interventions need to be planned to incorporate the learning strategies as described by the inner layers of the model. A number of educationalists have described the role that the environment plays in student learning 7 , 10 , 17 , The role that the teaching environment plays is the most adjustable variable.

Students are either stimulated or inhibited by the location in which they are trying to learn. Their reactions are determined by their biological makeup.

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  6. While some students need sound, either noise or music to learn, others need silence to be able to study. Light intensity has an effect on the ability to learn; whereas some prefer bright light, others need dim light to optimize their learning. Heat perception varies among people. Physical discomfort interferes with the ability to concentrate.

    Students differ in their ability to sit and study at a conventional desk, a bed, a lounge chair, a couch, or on the floor. Students squirming in their seats to try to find a comfortable position are often accused of fidgeting and urged to sit still. Students' environmental needs are important to them and are beyond their control.

    Although these needs may change over time, these changes are very gradual 9. Students also need to give feedback if they understand better if they are taught according to their preferred way of learning while also being challenged to use different learning strategies to encourage whole brain learning.

    The importance of understanding the role that learning styles play in the learning of physiology requires further investigation. The role of whole brain learning strategies can be investigated and compared for students registered for different modules in physiology to guide both lecturers and students. The objective is to improve the understanding and application of physiology, especially for students embarking on medical and paramedical careers.

    The information gathered during the extensive literature search were integrated to conceptualize learning and motivate the principles for the development of the proposed model. This model, based on Curry's onion model, merged personality traits, information-processing strategies, and instructional design and environmental preferences to enlighten instructional design for learning interventions.

    This model relates the personality traits central to learning to the different quadrants of brain preference according to Neethling's brain profile. These personality preferences are encircled by the different information-processing preferences for each brain quadrant. The different stages of Kolb's learning cycle were classified into the four quadrants associated with the different brain processing strategies within the information-processing circle.

    Each of the stages of Kolb's learning cycle were associated with a specific cognitive learning strategy. These cognitive strategies have been related to the stages of Kolb's cycle in the information-processing circle. The inner circles are enclosed by the circle representing the role of the environment and instruction. It relates the environmental factors that affect learning to the overall learning process and distinguishes between the significance of face-to-face and technology-assisted learning. This study makes a contribution to the field of instructional design for physiology in that lecturers are alerted to the importance of incorporating learning strategies that make provision for the personality, information processing, and environment and instructional needs of different students.

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      Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. This body of research supports the use of movement as a modality to help engage students and facilitate learning. Why do we persist when the evidence that lecture alone does not cut it is so strong? This compelling statement speaks to the necessity and resistance to implementing instructional practices with kinesthetic elements and moving away from those practices that have been proven to be ineffective.

      In a study that sought to evaluate the impact of Whole Brain Teaching on the behaviors of challenging students, nine types of student behaviors were evaluated with fifth grade students. The video also references a study on the effect of Whole Brain Teaching in a California elementary school Gilroy Prep School which found that test scores in math and language arts rose by an average of 11 percent.

      Research indicates that connecting neuroscience to instructional practices has promising implications for tackling the long standing achievement gap between African-American and White male students. Research also supports the strategies included as part of the Whole Brain Teaching program. It is clear that no single variable can account for the continued existence of this achievement gap because of variances in the contextual frameworks of social, cultural, and school environments. The continuation of the achievement gap is unacceptable for public education in the United States.

      The gap is in direct opposition to historical laws such as the Equal Education Act of which ensures that school districts are to provide an equal education to all students. The costs of this disparaging gap continuing include deficits in literacy as well as increases in drop-out rates and unemployment.

      These implications extend well beyond the elementary school years where gaps first begin to widen.

      Whole Brain Teaching provides an opportunity to potentially change the trajectory of educating African-American male students. Biffle, C. Brophy, J. American Psychologist, 4, — Brown, B. Conant, B. Learning what we've learned. Darensbourg, A. Predictors of achievement in African-American students at risk for academic failure: the roles of achievement values and behavioral engagement.

      Psychology in the Schools , 50 10 , Duncan, G. Farbman, D. Boston, MA: Massachusetts Franklin, J. Gill, D. Griss, S. Hess, F. Our achievement-gap mania. Hruby, G. Jensen, E.

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