The Effects of Brain-Based Learning on the Academic Achievement of Students with Different Learning Styles

Article excerpt

Abstract

The purpose of the present study is to investigate the effects of Brain-based learning (BBL) on the academic achievement of students with different learning styles. The study group consists of students from the department of Social Sciences Teacher Education in the Faculty of Education at Mugla University (N=68). In the study, a pre-test-post-test experimental design was used. Data were collected by using academic achievement tests and the Kolb's Experiential Learning Style questionnaire. The findings of the study revealed that the BBL approach used in the experimental group was more effective in increasing student achievement than the traditional approach used in the control group. However, no significant difference was observed among the achievement levels of the experimental group students with different learning styles.

Key Words

Brain-Based Learning, Learning Styles, Social Sciences Students, Measuring and Evaluation Course.

Learning styles are factors directly affecting students' learning processes. Individual differences observed in the acquisition and processing of information during the learning process result in style differences in learning (Felder, 1996). The best way of conceiving individual differences is through understanding learning styles (Hall, 2005). An understanding of learning styles requires some knowledge of how the brain works and learns, and how the brain functions. As the feelings, emotions, attitudes and backgrounds of individuals are different from each other, each person acquires and learns information in different ways. It is claimed that the learning styles of the individuals are determined by the ways the brain functions. Thus, the content, design and presentation of each learning activity should be developed in such a way as to cater to the different thinking and learning styles of students (De Vita, 2001). What matters is how to design and carry out effective learning activities to meet the needs of students with different learning styles. Hence, it seems necessary to teach students how the brain functions and learns while acquiring and processing information.

There are various viewpoints regarding how we perceive and process information (Dunn, 1990; Dunn & Dunn, 1992; Kolb, 1984; McCarthy, 2000). Within the context of the findings suggested by the neurophysiologic theory of Hebb (1949), it is believed that the left and right hemispheres of the brain employ different strategies while receiving different information in different ways (Jensen, 2008; Kolb, 1984; Williams, 1983). Each hemisphere contributes its special functions to cognitive, affective, and physical activities and is neuron or nerve cell rich (Jensen, 2008; Walls, 1999). Neither of these hemispheres is superior to the other; they just have different specialized functions (Gazzaniga, 1998; Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 2002). The hemispheres spontaneously determine the time spent on thinking about a particular issue (Sprenger, 2002), and the brain serves its function as a whole. At the same time, "every brain is unique" (Caine & Caine, 1994).

Several educators and brain researchers, including Dun and Dunn (1992), Kolb (1984), Hebb (1949), Gregorc (1984), McCarthy (2000), Butler (1987), and Felder (1996) have conducted research and produced materials related to students' learning styles as related to the brain's hemispheres. This research has revealed that individuals learn in different ways; hence, multi-dimensional teaching models should be used. McCarthy (2000), for example, suggested that teachers using her four styles involve both right brain and left-brain processing techniques.

Learning Styles

Learning styles are cognitive, affective, and physiological traits that serve as relatively stable indicators of how learners perceive, interact with, and respond to the learning environment (O'Keefe & Nadel, 1978, p. …