M. Jackson Group Update – November 2019 – Neuromyths and Education

A collection of postings on a range of issues is available on our website (www.mjacksongroup.ca).  This month’s post is again from Ken Pope’s listserv, where he kindly provides daily summaries of current articles in the field.  His post is as follows:
The Online Learning Consortium released a study: “Neuromyths and Evidence-Based Practices in Higher Education.”
Here’s the abstract:
[begin abstract]
Neuromyths are false beliefs, often associated with teaching and learning, that stem from misconceptions or misunderstandings about brain function. While belief in neuromyths has been established as prevalent among the general public and K-12 teachers, literature about neuromyth belief among higher education professionals (instructors, instructional designers, and administrators) has not been well-researched. This international study examined:
  • Awareness of neuromyths and general knowledge about the brain among higher education professionals across institutional types, course delivery modes, roles, and a variety of characteristics such as demographics, teaching experience, and level of education;

  • Awareness of evidence-based practices from the learning sciences and Mind (psychology), Brain (neuroscience), and Education (pedagogy and didactics; MBE) science among higher education professionals;

  • Predictors of awareness of neuromyths, general knowledge about the brain, and evidence-based practices among higher education professionals; and

  • Interest among instructors, instructional designers, and administrators in scientific knowledge about the brain and its influence on learning.
This study includes not only answers to important research questions, but practice-oriented information that is useful for pedagogy, course design, and leadership, as well as for further research on this topic.
[end abstract]
Here’s an excerpt:
[begin excerpt]
Neuromyths to which respondents were most susceptible included:

o Listening to classical music increases reasoning ability.
o A primary indicator of dyslexia is seeing letters backwards.
o Individuals learn better when they receive information in their preferred learning styles (e.g., auditory, visual, kinesthetic).
o Some of us are “left-brained” and some are “right-brained” due to hemispheric dominance, and this helps explain differences in how we learn. 
o We only use 10% of our brain. 
[end excerpt]
Another excerpt:
[begin excerpt]
Evidence-based practices to which respondents had the greatest awareness included: 
o Emotions can affect human cognitive processes, including attention, learning and memory, reasoning, and problem-solving.
o Explaining the purpose of a learning activity helps engage students in that activity.
o Maintaining a positive atmosphere in the classroom helps promote learning. Stress can impair the ability of the brain to encode and recall memories.

o Meaningful feedback accelerates learning. 
[end excerpt]
“The most erroneous stories are those we think we know best—and therefore never scrutinize or question.”
—Stephen Jay Gould, Harvard Professor of Zoology & Geology (1941-2002)
John Pullyblank, Ph.D., R.Psych. (#946)
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