Making Change Easy (Novelty with the Brain in Mind Book 2)
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Imagery is a superb way to demonstrate something and provide answers to the questions your brain is asking. This is why you should provide visual examples along with what you explain in words.
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Nine Things Educators Need to Know About the Brain
A second delay will often make users leave a site immediately. Think about your attention. Did you really read the whole thing in one go? How much did you skip? What else did you do while reading this article? In today's review I'm assessing whether websites in question could do anything to better get…. In today's review, Tommy is assessing the visual complexity of a cabinet hardware eCommerce site…. Peep Laja is the founder of CXL. He's a renowned conversion optimization champion and was nominated as the most influential CRO expert in the world. Thank you for this useful information.
Obviously it took a lot of research to come up with the facts. Great post. Thanks again. Very educational. Thanks for putting it up. I read the whole thing from the start there after. You know most people are beautiful when they live an organic life, it is all those things that the artificial world generates that alters peoples images of themselves.
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Image credit. Image source. Related Posts. Improve Conversions with Website Reviews. Do you want to make your website better? There are many ways to optimize a…. Although nearly all neural connections have the ability to exhibit plasticity, there are multiple factors that can either promote or inhibit neural change. For example, we all know that it is easier to learn something if we are paying attention and motivated by the material.
Scientists have identified a set of neurotransmitters that are commonly released in contexts involving motivation and attention. Broadly speaking, the neurotransmitter dopamine is associated with reward or the anticipation of reward, while the neurotransmitter acetylcholine ACh is released during situations of novelty or surprise Everitt and Robbins, ; Schultz and Dickinson, On the basis of these laboratory studies, neuroscientists would predict that when our students are motivated and attentive in our class, their brains are releasing dopamine and ACh, priming them for plasticity and learning.
On the flip side, there are other factors that can inhibit plasticity. Everyone has felt how a stressful or scary event causes heart rates and blood pressures to rise. One chemical in particular, the stress hormone cortisol , seems to be particularly relevant to plasticity and learning. The negative effects of high levels of stress and cortisol on memory compound over time.
Many different studies using all sorts of stressors have found that chronic stress can impair learning and memory and is even associated with the shrinkage of certain brain structures in humans Conrad, On the basis of these studies, neuroscientists would likely predict that high levels of stress in students in classrooms would be an impediment to learning, and removing some stressors could facilitate it.
For learning to be useful and affect behavior, once the learning is complete and synaptic connections are strengthened, memories must be stored and then retrieved when needed. While much is still to be discovered, neuroscientists propose that memories are stored in groups of neurons that all become strongly connected to each other during learning and synaptic plasticity. However, just because the neurons involved are scattered throughout the brain does not mean that synapses are altered at random whenever something new is learned.
On the contrary, the plasticity that occurs after learning is specific to the particular neurons that will go on to form the memory ensemble. The specificity of synaptic plasticity may mean that learning one fact or skill may not easily or immediately translate into learning another fact or skill, even if the two facts or skills seem closely related.
In summary, then, the brain creates memories through altering the synaptic connections between specific neurons, stores them in connected ensembles of neurons, and retrieves them by reactivating those same neurons and connections. Importantly, the ability of the synapses to respond to learning experiences by undergoing synaptic plasticity is modulated by the presence of other chemical factors, such as dopamine, ACh, and cortisol, which are associated with particular emotional, environmental, and cognitive states.
Some of these chemicals, such as the neurotransmitters dopamine and ACh, are associated with attention and motivation, positively influence synaptic plasticity and learning, while other compounds associated with stress, like the hormone cortisol, negatively influence synaptic plasticity and learning. We will do this by introducing four different hypothetical students—Alessa, Joe, Morgan, and Elijah—and their experiences in a traditionally taught first-year introductory biology class that lacks these techniques. The four techniques that we will focus on are frequent homework, concept maps, problem-based learning, and culturally diverse examples, although we will also briefly discuss other techniques that may take advantage of similar neural processes as these four Table 1.
Middle: psychological or educational findings or ideas that may correspond to the neuroscientific principle. Imagine a student, Alessa, a first-term freshman who hopes to major in biology. However, her busy life means that the reading tends to happen after the corresponding lecture rather than before. Every time, the reading feels reassuringly similar to what was said in lecture, which makes her feel satisfied with her studying and prepared for her first midterm. During the exam, however, she realizes that something is wrong. Somehow the knowledge that seemed so familiar when she read the textbook now seems to hover just out of reach in her mind.
The worst experiences came when the test asked her to solve problems. She had thought that reading through the examples her teacher worked through in class would be enough, but somehow that did not translate into being able successfully complete those problems on the exam. Could having frequent, actively engaging homework assignments have helped Alessa learn more from her class? Alessa, like many students, believes that, by reading the textbook, she was doing an adequate job of absorbing knowledge.
However, many psychology studies have confirmed that mere passive exposure to knowledge, such as rereading a previously read passage, is not very effective at creating memories Roediger and Butler, More fundamentally, passive strategies such as listening and reading seem to do a poor job of developing higher-order thinking skills like problem solving, synthesis or evaluation, even when the material is designed to explain or model those skills Zoller, Conversely, psychologists have found that an effective way to reinforce a memory is to retrieve or reconstruct it Roediger and Butler, Frequent homework can be an opportunity to give students that practice.
Studies suggest that assigning homework in college biology classes can increase performance Lefcort and Eiger, ; Orr and Foster, ; Carnegie, What do we know about the neurobiology of learning and memory that might help explain why homework can be effective in preventing the problems Alessa experienced in her exam? The difficulty students have when translating the knowledge they obtained by reading or listening into usable skills makes more sense in the light of what is known about the specificity of neural plasticity.
Instead, if she had been assigned active homework, she might have practiced the skills she needed to succeed. Of course, there are many ways instructors can allow their students to practice skills, including using varied types of assessments and giving students time in class to discuss, write, and solve problems. All term, the sheer number of facts has been making his head swim. By now, he has highlighted every single detail and vocabulary word in his textbook, and every time he opens it to study he feels like he is slowly sinking into a sea of neon yellow ink.
The test confirms that he is drowning: on any short-response question that asks him to analyze, contrast, or argue, he has no idea where to even start, so he spills out onto the paper all the facts he can muster that relate even tangentially to the prompt. His strategy gets him enough partial credit to pass the exam, but at heart he is still confused about how all the pieces fit together. Could concept maps have helped Joe?
What’s New? Exuberance for Novelty Has Benefits
As instructors, we already know that all of biology is interconnected, but novices like our incoming freshmen do not. When students create concept maps, they must explicitly link biological concepts and ideas to one another, countering the tendency to view each detail separately Allen and Tanner, b. Many but not all educational studies have shown that making concept maps enhances comprehension and recall of class material compared with strategies such as listening to lectures or rereading Nesbit and Adesope, ; but see Karpicke and Blunt, What do we know about the neurobiology of learning and memory that might help explain why concept maps can be effective in preventing the problems Joe encountered?
Memories are encoded as synaptic networks and are retrieved when some of the neural connections are reactivated, which prompts the reactivation of the entire network to which they belong. It is logical, then, that a memory that has many connections to other memories would be easier to retrieve than a memory that has only a few entry points, because there would be more ways to reactivate the former. Therefore, explicitly connecting a piece of biology knowledge to other information in the course or the real world should make that piece of knowledge easier to remember. Other strategies for having students connect the class material to their preexisting knowledge or to what they have learned previously include using appropriate preassessments and designing class activities that explicitly ask students to compare, synthesize, and evaluate.
Morgan is laser-focused on the career goal that she has had since she was a small child: being a doctor. Initially, Morgan was fairly excited about her introductory biology course, hoping that it would connect basic biology to her interest in human health. However, when the instructor comes to evolution and the diversity of life, she loses all her enthusiasm. How can it be relevant to me or my future patients? Could problem-based learning have helped Morgan retain more of the material that was covered in the class?
In problem-based learning, learning is initiated by, and structured around, complex situations Allen and Tanner, a. Studies of classes that use problem-based learning report positive effects on class attendance, student retention, retaining knowledge, and conceptual understanding, suggesting that students enjoy this form of teaching and learn from it Allen and Tanner, a ; Prince and Felder, What do we know about the neurobiology of learning and memory that might help explain some of the effectiveness of problem-based learning?
Neurobiologists have shown that motivation and attention, which problem-based learning promotes, are associated with the release of dopamine and ACh. In turn, these neurotransmitters greatly bolster the formation of new synaptic connections. Perhaps if her instructor had introduced evolution with a problem about antibiotic resistance, Morgan may have realized that evolution does have applications for human health and may have been more eager about and attentive to the material. Problem-based learning is not the only way to engage students, of course; for example, instructors can ask the students at the beginning of the term about their personal and professional interests and tailor examples, questions, and classroom activities to fit those interests.
Elijah is also in the same first-year biology class as Morgan, Joe, and Alessa. He is excited and proud to be there, as he is the first person in his family to go to college. He knows that there are not many scientists who look like him or come from his kind of background. In fact, he cannot readily think of a single one, nor are any discussed in his biology class, but he is determined to become a research scientist.
However, this class has been a lot more difficult than he expected. He studies assiduously for the first exam, since he wants to prove himself, but on test day, a subtle panic takes over. He feels his heart race, and his mind seizes up and refuses to yield the answers. Could using culturally diverse examples have helped Elijah feel and be more successful in class?
Even if students consciously reject prejudicial notions of what types of people are better at science, they may still hold unconscious beliefs that influence their actions Greenwald and Banaji, When students reach our classrooms and do not see themselves or issues of concern to their communities, they might reasonably conclude that they do not belong in biology.
Such concerns are one of the primary drivers behind the lower retention rates of women and minority students in science Tanner and Allen ; Tanner, a.