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What is Brain-Based Learning?10 Techniques to Build It

Brain-based learning refers to teaching methods and lesson planning based on the latest scientific research on how the human brain learns best. 

It focuses on creating optimal conditions in the classroom and leveraging proven cognitive processes to enhance students’ acquisition, retention, and application of new information and skills.  

Brain-based learning aims to fuel better instruction, engagement, and outcomes by syncing curriculum and activities to students’ natural learning systems. 

With deeper insight into memory formation, attention, intrinsic motivation, and neural networks, lessons can be designed to maximise understanding, critical thinking, creativity, and information recall.

4 Key Principles Behind This Approach

Several core principles underpin effective brain-based learning:

Hands-On Experiential Learning

Active participation in applying concepts taps into spatial memory and embodied cognition, two powerful ways our brains make meaning. Physical manipulatives, experiments, role-playing and tangible examples aid retention.

Emotion to Enhance Memory

The brain prioritises emotional information, analysing it differently than dry facts. Linking academic concepts to emotional impact and personal relevance uses this brain feature to advantage.  

Optimising Individual Neurodiversity

No two students’ brains are wired exactly the same. Brain-based education aims to tailor teaching strategies to best fit how each group of students uniquely takes in, processes and synthesises data based on their neurocognitive strengths.

Promoting Flow State for Learning  

The brain learns best when appropriately challenged but not under threat and stress. Lessons strategically aim for student “flow”- fully engaged but not anxious or bored as peak learning occurs here. Pressure inhibits neuroplasticity.

10 Core Techniques to Build Brain-Based Lessons

Key techniques to leverage in brain-aligned curriculum design include:

Chunking Content  Into Digestible Bites

Because working memory gets overwhelmed by too much data at once, lessons optimally “chunk” material into shorter segments and standalone modules. This aligns with brain intake capacity.

Interleaving Related Topics

Jumping between and connecting related concepts strengthens context, similarities, differences, and big-picture thinking versus learning topics in complete silos. 

Spaced Repetition for Memory Consolidation 

Re-exposing students to key ideas over time – say 10 minutes after initial learning, one day later, one week later – boosts memory consolidation as neural pathways strengthen each pass.

Real World Relevance & Transfer Goals

Tying abstract lessons to tangible, relatable applications activates prior knowledge networks in the brain so new info gets coded and retrieved more easily. 

Inquiry-Based Projects

The student-driven analysis uses key executive functions and critical thought while addressing intrinsic motivation and dopamine’s role in cementing lessons.

Games & Simulations

Gamified content taps into reward pathways in the brain, lowers stress response, and aligns with hands-on experiential learning methods shown to enhance outcomes.

Collaborative Work

Peer-to-peer teaching and team projects leverage social cognitive capacities like modelling behaviour, which builds neural networks along different paths.

Explicit Skill Building  

Tools like mnemonic devices and metacognition exercises strengthen access points to recall important elements. Methodically widening this web makes info more retrievable in the long term.  

Formative Assessments 

Low-stakes pop quizzes secure recently learned content in memory before natural decay sets in, guiding neural consolidation in expected directions.

Brain Breaks

Brief interludes for novelty and movement facilitate renewed attention, stress relief, and optimised “diffuse thinking” neural modes that spark creativity when students return to academics. 

Additional Key Benefits

Alongside enhanced educational outcomes like improved test scores, grades and skill building, brain-based learning promotes:

  • Increased Student Engagement & Motivation By tapping into dopamine-fueled anticipation/reward of novel, relevant activities and collaborative work, students stay focused and interested longer. Intrinsic motivation also strengthens knowledge retention.
  • Reduced Behavioral Issues When academic material connects to personal goals and taps into neurodiverse strengths through interactive projects, disruptive actions tend to decline.
  • Strengthened Memory & Retention Using proven techniques like spaced repetition to activate neural consolidation cements lessons more reliably for the long term and across contexts. 
  • Heightened Critical Thinking Neuroplasticity expands when students actively use executive functions – like manipulating information, inquiring and problem-solving. This acts like “mental muscle building”, strengthening networks.
  • Real World Application Embedding abstract lessons into emotional, social, cultural and physical contexts that resonate prepares neural networks for applicability beyond school. Knowledge gets coded with more environmental cues for recall.
  • Expanded Creativity Divergent thinking associated with the brain’s default mode network thrives when lessons incorporate free play, experimenting and exploring conceptual spaces without strict guidelines. Novel connections flourish.

Key Takeaways

The core advantage of brain-based learning strategies lies in purposefully activating the brain’s natural methods for digesting, mastering and retaining new information. This child-centered approach revolves around neuroscience helpful for peak knowledge acquisition.

10 Teaching Methods or Strategies

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