Brain-based learning is an area of research on how the brain learns information. It can be summarized as “the research on how the brain works and its connections to learning theory” (Palombo-Weiss, 2000). Our brains are amazing networks of connections. “We process all incoming information through networks, and any information already stored influences how and what we learn” (Palombo-Weiss, 2000). “Brain-based learning stresses the importance of patterning, that is, the fact that the brain does not easily learn things that are not logical or have no meaning” (Caine & Caine). Problem-based learning and differentiation allow more students to be able to make those meaningful connections in their brains.
Problem based learning focuses on giving students a problem that they must solve individually or in groups (Woei, Jonassen, & Liu). The brain needs variation in instructional style and problem-based learning is one of those variations. An example of this is that attention devices only work for a certain amount of time and then the brain becomes desensitized and you have to try something new (Jensen, 2005). Problem based learning also allows students to make sense of material and create their own meaning and find their own patterns in learning.
Brain-based learning can also inform differentiation in education. The brain needs different ways of learning the same information to create meaning. Teachers must find ways to help their students see the meaning of new information and use all available resources to create complex learning environments (Caine & Caine).
Brain-based learning is all about helping students create meaning in material. It moves away from traditional ways of teaching like lecturing and then following with a paper and pencil exam. Both problem-based learning and differentiation go hand in hand with the theories of brain-based learning.
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