Brain-Based Learning

Brain-Based Learning

By: Anwar Alsulami  on 03 March 2018


      Brain-based learning is the techniques borrowed from research and cognitive sciences to enhance teacher’s instruction and student’s ability to learn. These strategies encourage learning by creating an environment that takes advantage of the way a brain works. Most importantly, it incorporates particular types of research based on academic intervention and aspects related to emotional learning. Brain-based learning is premised on the component that students’ emotions influence their ability to learn and that the brain continually strives to connect with intellect and feelings. Emotions play an integral part in students’ evaluation as to whether something is essential or not. Therefore, an assessment of the history of brain-based learning, its rationale, the learning process, an ideal class, and the criticism leveled against it reveals the significance of such practices in improving students’ educational experience.

History Background

     For over 200 years, many people have developed models to illustrate how the mind functions. For the most part, the brain was compared to a city’s switchboard. Scientists identified the left hemisphere of the mind as being the central area for language and analytical thought. The brain theory in the 1970’s addressed both the right and left sides of the mind. Initial evidence by Pierre Broca revealed that speech was linked to a specific site of the brain (Handayani and Duran 154). Furthermore, he found that reading and writing problems resulted from the damage of the left side of the brain. Therefore, these initial pieces of evidence were interpreted to mean that particular mental function had precise locations in the brain.

brain based learning
Fig. 1. The relationship between the mind, body, and education science.

      However, Vygotsky, a neurologist in the nineteenth century, deviated from the dominant theory. He claimed that functions such as language were more likely to involve neural processes distributed throughout the brain. Also, Vygotsky argued that the subcultural environment modified the neurological structures responsible for mental functioning. Later in the mid-twentieth century, neurologists, such as Sperry, maintained that the left part of the brain was responsible for language and critical thinking. They gave an apt breakdown of the psychological functions of the brain according to its sides (Thomas 63). In 1972, Erick Lenneberg observed that brain disorders such as the loss of speech were permanent after puberty. To him, the period for language acquisition should be before adolescence. Therefore, all these arguments point to the fact the brain has a neurological function in speech and language development.

Later in 1990, neurobiologist Paul MacLean adopted the Triune brain theory. The theory stated that humans have three brains, each with a distinct evolutionary and structural function. In this proposition, learning would be incorporated into the lower brain, critical thinking in the upper section, and emotions in the middle part of the mind. Notably, throughout the centuries, neuroscientists have continually improved information of how the brain works depending on the advancements of their research, experiments, autopsies, and body scans (Thomas 65). Most significantly, research by neuroscientists has been instrumental in developing the teaching practices. Consequently, educators have obtained a substantial amount of information of how the brain works, which, by extension, helps to enhance the student’s learning experience.

Rationale for Brain-Based Learning Theory

     In the course of learning, students experience various changes due to emotional, social, and cognitive factors. Brain-based learning tends to have lesson designs and techniques that adapt to these changes and are founded on scientific studies on the brain. Researchers have raised significant benefits resulting from the use of brain-based learning and teaching (Bonomo 28). First of all, such practices involve employing project-based learning. As a result, the students improve their executive function skills, such as critical thinking, brainstorming solutions, and setting goals. Consequently, this learning experience solves a real-world problem, and students are likely to memorize a lot of information.

Furthermore, the brain-based learning reinforces the brain plasticity. The mind is not a static organ. Quite the contrary, it changes with experience. With a constant activity use, the brain becomes stronger. For example, students who continuously memorize facts using the brain-based learning enhance their memory pathways. Brain-based learning provides students with opportunities to analyze and solve an impending problem. Consequently, learners become more adept at critical thinking (Handayani and Duran 154). Also, brain-based learning employs a multifaceted way of instructing learners to accommodate suitable education programs. Therefore, there is an improved involvement by the students during teaching.

In addition, brain-based learning ensures efficient use of time and provides a platform for reflecting on the educational experience. It presents the opportunity for students to deliberate on schooling activities. As a result, a learner’s memory consolidation is improved. Also, brain-based learning saves time. Precisely, the average span of a learning experience is approximately thirty minutes. Brain-based learning maximizes the educational experience by ensuring optimal concentration within a short period. As a consequence, it is critical that the teacher employs appropriate pedagogy programs to save time and give the student a time to reflect.

Learning Process

      The learning process takes different approaches. Effective learning is crucial to align students’ habits to meet the requirements of a particular work. The four modes of the learning cycle include concrete experimentation, reflection, conceptualization, and experimentation. Fundamentally, a student learns by studying, reflecting on the studies, researching, applying the acquired knowledge to situations, and experimenting (Ansari 93). Also, the learning cycle includes perception and processing of information (see Fig 2). While the latter connotes the way a learner deals with information, the former focuses on its uptake. For the most part, a purposeful adherence to this process results in improved learning outcomes among students.

brain based learning_2
Fig. 2. The learning process in context.

Ideal Class

      Understanding how the brain works allows teachers and program developers to create curricula and learning environments that give students a better chance of success in learning. An ideal class utilizes different ways in which various components of the body and the brain engage in the learning process (Flobakk 657). It assures full engagement of a student in the educational experience. Considerably, the ideal class has five aspects. First of all, teachers have programs that ensure that the learning engages psychology (Connell 34). The class incorporates the research on the plasticity of the mind. As such, all students will have the capacity to comprehend tutorials efficiently considering they are more involved in experiences that demand them to use their brains and senses.

Moreover, an ideal class recognizes that learning is both conscious and unconscious. In some instances, it is requisite for students to use their conscious capabilities to solve class problems. Conversely, there are other times that learners will be required to use unconscious perceptions in the same way the creative aspects of an artist occurs after the mind has completed conscious processing (Gozuyesil and Dikici 645). Finally, an ideal class uses assessment to measure achievement and motivation. Teachers in such classes establish classrooms in which brain-based learning thrives. Students demonstrate their knowledge through the learning style and platforms for constructive feedback. Therefore, teachers use appropriate pedagogical and assessment strategies in brain-based classes.


     Although brain-based teaching is considered an excellent learning strategy, it has a substantial number of criticisms. Many teachers misrepresent the finding s of brain-based learning. These educators tend to believe that a single study theory justifies a particular classroom strategy without substantial evidence. Most of them are unaware of what constitutes an excellent study and the reputation of the researcher. Obviously, unfounded information could be dangerous especially in the acquisition of knowledge. Also, not all teachers affirm that every strategy formulated is useful for teaching (Jensen 76). Much of what is termed as an ‘appropriate teaching strategy’ is a semblance of common sense and psychology. However, new and appropriately refined findings can guide brain-based teaching in more productive directions.

Worth noting is that some educators have raised concern that there is nothing innovative in brain-based learning approach. Through centuries, teachers have always employed brain-involving strategies to improve students’ educational experience (Flobakk 661). The only difference is that educators and students had limited knowledge regarding the impact of such learning experiences. In the past, teachers were ignorant of the facts surrounding their practices on brain-based learning considering their actions were not purposeful and professional (Jensen 76). Thus, the significance of brain-based teaching in improving the learning process in the modern generation is not different from past pedagogical practices. Remarkably, new research and findings on brain-based strategies must be adopted to achieve more productive directions in classrooms.


      Overall, brain-based learning is a technique gleaned from research in neurology to enhance teachers’ instruction and students’ educational experience. This learning practice is dependent on the idea that the students’ emotions influence their ability to study. As such, changing conceptions of memory and the learning environment affects their academic performance. The historical background of brain-based learning has been instrumental in developing effective learning practices. Also, information gathered from neuroscientist reveals how brains works, which impacts learning. An ideal class is the one that promotes schooling curricula and learning environments that guarantee academic success. Furthermore, such a class engages all the components of the body in the learning process. Although brain-based learning is ideal for education, teachers must acknowledge the significance of such practices to students.

Works Cited

  • Ansari, Daniel. “Culture and Education: New Frontiers in Brain Plasticity.” Trends in Cognitive Sciences, vol. 16, no. 2, 2012, pp. 93-95.
  • Bonomo, Virginia. “Brain-Based Learning Theory.” Journal of Education and Human Development, vol. 6, no. 1, 2017, pp. 27-43.
  • Connell, Diane. “The Global Aspects of Brain-Based Learning.” Educational Horizons, vol. 88, no. 1, 2009, pp. 28-39.
  • Flobakk, Fride R. “Educational Neuroscience and Reconsideration of Educational Research.” Pedagogika, vol. 66, no. 6, 2017, 654-671.
  • Gozuyesil, Eda, and Ayhan Dikici. “The Effect of Brain Based Learning on Academic Achievement: A Meta-Analytical Study.” Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, vol. 14, no. 2, 2014, pp. 642-648.
  • Handayani, Baiq S., and Aloysius Duran C. “Model Brain Based Learning (BBL) and Whole Brain Teaching (WBT) in Learning.” International Journal of Science and Applied Science: Conference Series, vol. 1, no. 2. 2017, pp. 153-161.
  • Jensen, Eric. “Brain-Based Learning: A Reality Check.” Educational Leadership, vol. 57, no. 7, 2000, pp. 76-80.
  • Thomas, Binu M., and Srikanta Swamy. “Brain Based Teaching Approach – A New Paradigm of Teaching.” International Journal of Education and Psychological Research, vol. 3, no. 2, 2014, pp. 62-65.


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