Academic journal article College Student Journal

Brain Hemisphericity and Academic Majors: A Correlation Study

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Brain Hemisphericity and Academic Majors: A Correlation Study

Article excerpt

This article reports on a study that investigated the correlation between students' choice of academic majors and their brain hemisphericity. The participants in this research were 429 graduate and undergraduate students in a large university in the southern part of the United States. The data were analyzed using analysis of variance to determine the influence of brain hemisphericity on students' choice of academic majors. The results lent support to earlier research in their findings of a strong correlation between academic majors and brain dominance. The ANOVA model showed a significant effect of brain hemisphericity on students' choice of academic majors. Arts/literature students tended to be right brained while business/commerce students were left brained. Students majoring in education, nursing, communication, and law were right brained, while students majoring in business/commerce, engineering, and science were left brained. The study also demonstrated an evidence of a general shift in students's brain hemisphericity from earlier research, where more students were identified as whole brained.

Research has demonstrated the importance of understanding brain behavior as it relates to learning styles and personality traits. In particular, studies revealed that brain hemisphericity greatly influences the individual's learning style and all kinds of intellectual and personality characteristics (Boyle & Dunn, 1998: McCarthy, 1996; Shiflett, 1989; Torrance, 1982).

This study examines the relationship between brain hemisphericity and college students' choice of academic majors. The results of this research should help teachers, school counselors, and college advisors to better understand their students' interests and abilities and steer them towards fields or academic majors that are compatible with their interests.

Research Review

Brain hemisphericity is the tendency of an individual to process information through the left hemisphere or the right hemisphere or in combination (Bradshaw & Nettleton, 1981; McCarthy, 1996; Springer & Deutsch, 1993). Research has demonstrated that the left hemisphere operates in a linear, sequential manner with logical, analytical, propositional thought. On the other hand, the right hemisphere operates in a nonlinear, simultaneous fashion and deals with non-verbal information as well as dreams and fantasy (Iaccino, 1993; McCarthy, 1996; Oxford, 1996; Oxford, Ehrman, & Lavine, 1991; Springer & Deutsch, 1993; Torrance, 1988). The left hemisphere appears to be specialized for language, whereas the right hemisphere is specialized for visuo-spatial and appositional thought. Kinsella (1995), Oxford (1996), and Oxford, Ehrman, and Lavine (1991) maintained that left hemispheric dominants are highly analytic, verbal, linear and logical learners, whereas right-hemispheric dominants are highly global, visual, relational, and intuitive learners. Whole-brain dominants are those who process information through both hemispheres equally and exhibit characteristics of both hemispheres. Those individuals have flexible use of both hemispheres (McCarthy, 1996).

Even though most of the literature appears to list characteristics associated with each of the brain hemispheres as dichotomies, the idea of hemispheric dominance suggests that brain hemisphericity operates on a continuum and is not dichotomous (Saleh & Iran-Nejad, 1995). It is important to keep in mind that individuals have different degrees of dominance, which affect to what degree they exhibit these characteristics.

Research has demonstrated that students are capable of mastering new skills if they are taught through instructional methods that complement their hemispheric preference (Boyle & Dunn, 1998; Dunn, Sklar, Beaudry, & Bruno, 1990). Several studies have found that students taught through methods that matched their hemispheric styles achieved statistically significant higher test scores than when they were taught through other teaching methods (Brennan, 1984; Dunn, Sklar, Beau&y, Bruno, 1990; Jarsonbeck, 1984). …

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