The Principles of Brain-Based Learning and Constructivist Models in Education

Article excerpt

Abstract

In recent years, the use of electrophysiological studies, neuropsychological tests and imaging techniques, providing opportunity for the researchers to study the brain both structurally and functionally, have provided considerable amount of knowledge, which resulted in important changes in educational areas. During this period, through the impact of constructivist approach, three significant concepts have come into prominence: "Individual differences", "contextuality" and "complexity". In this regard, an important part of educational studies has focused on understanding the learner with his/her differences, complexity and wholeness within a sociocultural context. Similarly, brain studies have provided important new framework for rethinking about the educational studies and learning models. Considering these three concepts (i.e. "individual differences", "contextuality" and "complexity), the present review tries to analyze the outcome of the brain research, to discuss the principles of Brain-Based Learning with the possible consequences and implications on education and, in the light of Brain-Based Learning principles, to evaluate the constructivist learning models such as Experiential Learning, Multiple Intellengience, Collaborative Learning, Self-Regulated Learning.

Key Words

Brain-Based Learning, Constructivist Models, Hemisphericity, Assessment, Emotion

The Consequences of Neuroscience Studies on Educational Area

Since the idea of "information storage by the modification of interneuronal connections" proposed by Cajal, and the "experiencedependent synaptic strengthening" postulated by Hebb, a large amount of research regarding the physiology of memory and learning have been carried out. Although the whole picture about the understanding of how experience gets into the brain, how the brain organizes itself to get, remember and forget the knowledge cannot be clearly demonstrated, one of the mostly known contemporary theoretical formulations of learning and memory is based on the plasticity of the neurons (sprouting of new axons and dendrites, and new synapses). Throughout life, the brain constantly "re-constructs" itself in order to cope with ongoing changes, and meet the ever-changing demands, the cognitive, behavioral and emotional status of an organism is remodeled by this lifelong self-adjustment and self-optimization processes. In rodents, non-human primates and humans, the experimental studies based on enriched environmental conditions, social deprivation and stress indicate that the functional and structural changes (permanent or stable changes) are seen not only in the developmental stage, but are also in throughout life. For example, while enriched environment reduce the rate of spontaneous apoptotic cell death later in life and protect against age-related decline of memory function, social deprivation or stress, on the contrary, is associated with an increased rate of apoptosis in the hippocampus and a reduced rate of neurogenesis in adulthood (for review, see Gülpinar & Yegen, 2004; Kolb & Whishaw, 1998).

Considering the functional organization of the brain, many concepts, hypothesis, and models have been developed since the mid-nineteenth century. The efforts to characterize the functional organization and functional differences among different brain regions, particularly between the two hemispheres of the human brain, have been a central theme in the cognitive neurosciences. As the information about structures and function of brain increased, concepts and models that is related with function and organization of the brain have changed from "hemispheric dominance", that was used to refer the language laterality of the brain, to "cerebral asymmetry" (non-language dominance differences, task-dependent differences) and "hemisphericity" (the predominance of one hemisphere and one hemispheric mode of processing, i.e. verbal-analytical processing mode of left cerebral hemisphere and a nonverbal-holistic processing mode of right cerebral hemisphere, regardless of the type of task; Morton, 2003b). …

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