Constructivist Teaching – Brain friendly teaching
Learning is enhanced by a challenge, but weakened by a threat. Threats release cortisol into our body causing high order thinking skills to take a back seat.
- Learning requires a stage where students are required to process the information given them. They need activities which require them to make personal sense of the material and so construct their own meanings.
- Research shows that learning activities that require active student processing improve recall by as much as a factor of ten, are more enjoyed, and create deeper learning.
- Meaning is personal and unique, and is built upon personal prior learning and experience, which differs from student to student. There is no one way to learn something and a variety of tasks and experiences are required to meet individual need.
- A useful analogy for effective teaching is sports coaching. The student is an athlete, and the teacher their coach. The teacher (coach) may explain, but this is not enough. The student (athlete) must train to practise and develop their skills, and the teacher (coach) provides suitable activities for this, and then provides feedback on the student's performance during the practice and suggests remedial work where this is necessary. The athlete can only improve performance by training; the student can only improve performance by learning activities.
- The brain is a parallel processor not a sequential processor. So learners need to think about parts and wholes at the same time, and to integrate topics.
- Skills such as high order reasoning need to be taught along with content, not separately.