In recent years, there has been significant research on the brain and student learning. Here are some tidbits about the brain, from Eric Jensen’s Teaching with the Brain in Mind.
Each brain is unique.
Both behaviorally and cognitively, emotions run the show.
The brain is highly adaptable and can change.
The brain rarely gets it right the first time. Instead we make rough drafts of new learning.
Humans are social and emotional learners.
As a result of this research, we need to look at how information is stored in the brain. Memories are stored in different parts of the brain and have different durations. Short term memory lasts approximately 30 seconds. Working memory lasts up to 20 minutes and long term memory can last much longer if we practice what we learned. Because we want learning to last long term, we need to know how to move content into long term memory. Content must be understood and have meaning. In order to retrieve information accurately and completely, we must look at how it is stored in the first place, not how we study it later. Sometimes we can improve our recall of information by doing a cross-lateral movement, such as tugging on the left ear with the right-hand. This research is significant because it connects to the teaching strategies used in a CPM classroom. Interleaving topics (also known as spaced practice) and mastery over time are both substantiated by what we have learned about how the brain stores and retrieves information. For more information about brain-based learning go to Brain-based learning.