Brain-Based Learning Is the Foundation of Integrated Curricula C. Murray Ardies The purpose of this presentation is to illustrate some of the basic concepts of brain-based learning and how they can be incorporated into an integrated curriculum. Brain-based learning is the process used to accomplish the educational objectives of the curriculum: An example curriculum for Health Science will be used to illustrate the concept. The Health Science Curriculum is, of course, a sub-set of the Health Education curriculum, which in turn, is a subset of the degree curriculum. Some Basic Definitions For the purposes of this presentation, the following definitions will be used (please note that they have been derived from a variety of resources and only represent this author’s interpretation of what a consensus definition might be): Brain-Based Learning (BBL): an approach to instruction that is based on the neurological processes that occur in the brain that in turn, result in the formation of new memories. BBL is often related to in-class activities but addresses curriculum as well, in that course content is organized around “broad themes” (rather than specific facts) and the factual content is taken from all of the different academic areas that apply to the themes. For our purposes, BBL applies to in-class dynamics. Integrated Curriculum (IC, aka Interdisciplinary Curriculum or Synergistic Teaching…): an approach to developing entire curricula where concepts that overlap multiple disciplines are examined for common concepts and the factual & conceptual interrelationships are highlighted. some crude examples of IC: mathematics/physics… ecology/biology… literature/science… geography/history… art/literature/language arts… and of course… what could be called the health sciences: (biology/biochemistry/nutrition/drugs/sexuality/exercise/disease…) Problem-Based Learning (PBL; aka inquiry-based learning): An approach to integrated learning based on student-initiated learning with guidance provided by an instructor/facilitator. A series of realistic problems are “posed” by the instructor and students figure them out with appropriate levels of guidance. The degree of guidance is decreased as students gain more expertise; often starting with illustrated answers for initial problems. PBL is a dominant form of integrated education within many medical schools world-wide and has been implemented as a component of the curricula of many high-schools (Northside College Prep in Chicago, IL and Palo Alto High in Palo Alto, CA for example – two of the highest-ranked high schools in the USA). PBL / student-directed study without close guidance by an expert would not be appropriate for a small child with very limited experience & knowledge (or a naïve adult; meaning: an adult without the relevant experience and preliminary knowledge)… on the other hand, it should be relatively easy for an expert… While PBL is not a focus of this presentation, the basic concept of PBL, i.e.: first determine all factual & conceptual areas and their inter-relationships necessary to address the problem, then “have at it…”, is. A PBL approach to designing lesson-plans, course materials, and curriculum development actually fits the BBL model very nicely so keeping this general concept in mind simply makes it easier to conceptualize how to approach any integrated topic… Concept Map: A graphical approach used to illustrate relationships between concepts both within and between disciplines. Concept maps are extremely useful in developing approaches to problem solving within PBL. They also can be extremely helpful for students’ understanding new learning in relation to what they already know, for educators to develop lesson plans, and for educators in organizing and evaluating entire curricula. For the purposes of this presentation concept maps will be used to illustrate the organization of a (hypothetical) Health-Science curriculum which could be embedded within a larger Health Education Major within an Education Degree. … A few different versions of a concept map… In developing a Health Science Curriculum a PBL approach with appropriate concept maps helps to organize things in a meaningful way… i.e. what are all those things that affect our health?... And how do they work together to produce “health”?... Specific areas of content are identified and added within each general sphere and interrelationships are highlighted as the model is developed… - We’ll deal with curriculum design later… First we’ll deal with experts and how they got that way… you can imagine that things can get extremely complicated very quickly… and knowing how it ALL fits together takes a pretty high degree of expertise… From a couple slides ago… the concept of expertise vs. naiveté was raised… this is very important because it brings us to the whole point of education: …education systems (public schools, colleges, universities, etc.) provide structured learning opportunities in order for students to develop a minimal degree of functional expertise in a variety of areas deemed important by society. From a curriculum standpoint the specific areas of minimal functional expertise are defined by educational standards; for public schools in Illinois, the Illinois Learning Standards1 (and their performance descriptors) describe what a student should know and what they should be able to do, in all subject areas and at the different grade levels. (as students progress through an educational system they gain more and more expertise within the areas of study of study as defined by the standards.) Please note: from science goal 12: “… provides fundamental concepts, principles, and interconnections of life, physical, and earth/space sciences”, from science goal 13: “… know and comprehend the relationships between science, technology, and society…”1. obviously these are Integrated Learning concepts! So… What is an Expert? Why are they Important? Experts are Learned People Experts notice features and meaningful patterns of information Experts have a great deal of content knowledge that is organized Experts’ knowledge cannot be reduced to sets of isolated facts - the knowledge is “conditionalized” on a set of circumstances. Experts retrieve important aspects of their knowledge with little effort. (My personal favorite): Though experts may know their disciplines thoroughly, this does not guarantee that they are able to teach others. Notice that the concepts of organization, patterns, and conditionalized knowledge are integral to expertise. These concepts are fundamental to both integrated learning and the neurological basis of learning. Experts are Learned People… But they Are Very Tough To Find! Experts are important, especially when it comes to developing & teaching components of an integrated curricula. Teachers need to have a high degree of expertise because without being an expert it would simply be impossible to provide sufficient guidance for learning the integrated concepts. And to stray from the main topic a bit: An expert in math is not necessarily an expert in physics or chemistry or biology and may not have the ability to integrate their knowledge of math into the other realms of study. They would, however, have a much easier time “getting trained” to work within an integrated math-science curriculum than someone without any expertise in mathematics. While this concept will not be a major topic here, it does illustrate the difficulty in trying to institute ANY integrated curricula, anywhere: our traditional education system, and especially those that certify school teachers, are simply not designed to produce anyone with a high level of integrated expertise. - Hence the importance of professional development for teachers! So… lets move on to the biological basis of learning… To understand how expertise is developed we have to understand the neurological basis of how the brain develops long-term (declarative) memories that are easy to recall… We can then use this knowledge to develop appropriate classroom activities that can enhance learning in the classroom We all have a central component to our nervous system called a brain and spinal cord (CNS) and a peripheral nervous system (PNS) which includes a lot of sensory and motor nerves. The peripheral nervous system is responsible for communication between our brain (both our “unconscious self ” and our “conscious self ”) and with the external environment as well as with all parts of the body . . . The brain coordinates and integrates information from the internal and external environment … Based on all of the internal sensory information received it selects the appropriate responses in order to keep us alive (mostly subconscious) … Based on all the external information received it selects and coordinates the appropriate behavioral responses (both conscious and subconscious) … The brain develops memories and maintains consciousness in order to more efficiently select those proper responses that keep us alive, i.e.: New stimulus Q: tried response 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5… I remember that response #4 was the best so next time stimulus Q happens, will use response #4. We pay attention to those environmental stimuli that are the strongest… …and react accordingly for “survival” We also pay attention to those stimuli that are most important to us… …and react because we choose to Based on all the external information received, and influenced by those stimuli that we are most attentive to, the brain selects and coordinates the appropriate (or inappropriate?) responses … Some Important Parts of the Brain That Relate to Learning Limbic (another very important) System of the Brain The limbic system is responsible for generating our emotional feelings (pleasure, frustration, anger) based on our cognitive interpretation of our environment Basal Ganglia – (Involved in Regulation of Movement) is part of the limbic system Putamem Globus Pallidus Caudate Substantia nigra Ventral tegmental area Locus coeruleus Memory, Learning & Behavior The most basic connection between behavior and memory is that we desire to perform behaviors which produce responses that we want….if we can’t remember that a particular behavior resulted in a desirable outcome, there is little chance we will seek out to repeat the same behavior. In addition, if a particular behavior results in an unpleasant experience, there is a strong likelihood that we will avoid that behavior. On the other hand, if a behavior is not particularly pleasant, but will eventually result in a highly desirable outcome, there is a high likelihood that the unpleasant behavior will be continued in order to get the pleasant payoff. So … How Does Memory “Work”? A “memory” is not a discrete location in the brain made up of a cluster of cells which are independent of other cells. A “memory” is actually comprised of a “pattern” of nerve-cell activities made up of interconnected nerve cells which are scattered throughout the cerebral cortex. These cells are in turn interconnected to all other brain cells. Memory/Learning We do not remember facts as discrete pieces of independent information. We have memories of “facts” only in association with other memories. We develop new memories only in association with existing memories. Memory/Learning New memories are created by coordinating an existing pattern (or patterns) of activated nerve cells that correspond to an existing memory (or memories) with the development of an additional new pattern (or patterns) of activity. This process demands synthesis of new proteins in “some” nerve cells to modify their ability to be activated by other nerves and thereby create a new patterns of activation. Learning Parts of the brain that are important for learning. Learning Hippocampus coordinates and integrates all incoming environmental stimuli with existing memories that correspond to the stimuli so we can identify (threats?) and act accordingly; activating ALL of them – we then pay attention to those that we recognize and are “important” to us Learning New memory is constructed based on novel stimulus in comparison to existing memory. “Strength” of the memory is dependent on the frequency and strength of the neural activity. The learning process demands synaptic How Does this Work? remodeling: the development of “new active” synapses between existing nerves in order to produce the new patterns of neural activity. In order to do this a host of proteins that stimulate nerve-growth must be produced and maintained for many hours: New Proteins: (synapsin I, synaptotagmin, syntaxin, and integrins, among others); Activate enzymes of the signal transduction pathways: (Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II, CaM-KII; mitogen-activated/extracellular signal- regulated protein kinase, MAP-K/ERK I and II; protein kinase C, PKC-δ); Activate DNA-binding proteins (transcription regulators): (cyclic AMP response element binding protein - CREB, Brain-derived neurotrophic factor - BDNF) Inactive Synapse Synaptic Remodeling Active Synapse Synapse How Does this Work? After sufficient amounts of new growth signals have been produced … & … they remain elevated long enough in the “stimulus-memory specific” activated nerve pathways: … a new memory is formed Learning & Memory The new memory can now be activated either through the “novel” stimulus or through the associated memory. We remember facts as pieces of “information” in relation to other pieces of “information” which in turn are related to other … Learning & Memory Because we construct and remember “facts” in relation to other “facts” that in turn are related to other “facts” … The greater the number of interconnected pathways that “intersect” the “new memory” – the easier it is to recall the “new memory” Memory & Motor Skills Sensory memories of physical movements are stored as patterns of neural activity in the cerebellum and are developed in essentially the same way as declarative (factual) memories. Analyze and activate memories of the array Skills & Memory of possible motor responses to the current environmental stimuli. Select appropriate motor response and activate the pre-motor cortex to initiate the selected movement patterns via the motor cortex. Basal ganglia (esp. caudate nucleus and substantia nigra) help initiate & coordinate activation of the appropriate motor neurons. All sensory inputs are coordinated by reticular formation and basal ganglia and transmitted to frontal cortex - Sensory input is unconsciously compared to sensory memory of the “selected” skill and unconscious adjustments are made “on-the-fly” Conscious images of movements are compared to conscious memories of what we think we should look like while we do it and we make conscious adjustments to mimic the conscious memory “on- the-fly” Integration of conscious and subconscious adjustments based on “on-the-fly” adjustments to conscious and subconscious memories of the skill result in the actual performance So… why is the skill stuff here? Skills such as running & cycling (and a whole lot more) are actually just programmed memories that are activated by a variety of stimuli; such as: got to catch the bus… starters pistol goes off at the beginning of a race… PE teacher tells you to run for a standardized test… and so on. Physical exercise is important for learning as illustrated in the following slides… Add in the Exercise Concept to Learning and Memory: - Rats with running wheels for 3, 7, & 28 days (my interpretation of the data): Largest “transient” increase in processes associated with the growth of new synapses (synapsin I, synaptotagmin and syntaxin; Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II, CaM-KII; MAP- K/ERK I and II; PKC-δ; cyclic AMP response element binding protein, CREB) Moderate “transient-longer” increase in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) Moderate “transient” increase in genes involved with associated excitatory effects (N-methyl-d- aspartate receptor, NMDAR-2A and NMDAR-2B and 1, EAAC1) Moderate “transient” down regulation of genes involved with inhibitory effects (GABAA receptor, glutamate decarboxylase GAD65). Exercise can enhance learning by “priming the pump” for new growth Exercise can enhance learning by “enhancing ABILITY to focus” More Exercise Experiments Stuff: Can activation alone produce brain changes without the subjects actually learning anything, just as activation of muscles by exercise can cause them to grow? 4 groups of rats, treatment over 1 month: 1 was taught to traverse an elevated obstacle course (very little total activity) 2 “mandatory exercisers” ran 30 minutes, rested 10 minutes, then ran 30 minutes. 3 “voluntary exercisers” had free access to an activity wheel, which they used often 4 (control) “cage potato” rats Results: Mandatory exercisers and the voluntary exercisers had higher densities of blood vessels than the cage potatoes or the “acrobats” The “acrobats” had the greatest number of synapses/cell Learning adds synapses; exercise does not! Different kinds of experience condition the brain in different ways. Synapse formation and blood vessel formation (vascularization) are two important forms of brain adaptation, but they are driven by different physiological mechanisms and by different behavioral events Learning specific tasks produces localized changes in the areas of the brain appropriate to the task. When young adult rats were taught a maze – a highly visual task, structural changes occurred in the visual area of the cerebral cortex as expected When they learned the maze with one eye blocked only the brain regions connected to the open eye were altered. When they learned a set of complex motor skills, structural changes occurred in the motor region of the cerebral cortex and in the cerebellum. Learning imposes new patterns of organization on the brain in ONLY those areas that are specifically activated during the new learning activity There is NO SUCH THING as “cross-learning” (a play on the cross-training concept) One Last Thing: Where There is No Order - The Brain Imposes Order In another experiment, people were given this list of words to memorize: sour candy-sugar-bitter- good-taste-tooth-nice-honey-soda-chocolate-heart-cake-tart-pie. During a test on whether a particular word was on the list, subjects insisted that the word “sweet” was on the list. People “remember” words that didn’t exist; the “brain” creates categories for processing information. Memory processes make relational links to other learned information – but just because you remember “it” doesn’t mean “it” exists… What does this Mean For Education? Learning is an active process on the part of the student, NOT the teacher! Educators cannot teach! Teachers must create a learning environment to help our students learn Brain-Based Education Memories are linked together in meaningful patterns – If no pattern exists - one will be constructed: Educators must explain thoroughly and illustrate exactly where the new learning fits within the overall area of study and how this relates to other areas of study (teachers MUST be experts) … In other words, we must constantly integrate the “new learning” with the “established learning” … (AND understand where this fits into “future learning)... Otherwise the students will impose their own “order”; right OR wrong! - topic concept maps - course concept maps - curriculum concept maps Brain-Based Education Memories are linked together in meaningful patterns that are specific to the actual “learning stimulus” The more direct links there are to established learning… the easier it will be to learn and remember … Learning in one context will not automatically “cross-over” to another one … memories: few connections memories: many connections Brain-Based Education Repetition is key to forming new memories: Without constant review new connections will NOT be synthesized and the new learning cannot take place Brain-Based Education “Strength” of the memory is dependent on the frequency and “strength” of the neural activity during learning. “Strength” of neural activity is directly proportional to the degree of arousal AND focus (engagement)… any distractions (such as tv/radio/ipod) severely reduce the efficiency of the learning process: you simply cannot pay attention to 2 things at once!! Brain-Based Education It takes time to develop permanent memories: Educators must adapt their teaching procedures to allow time for memories to start forming before moving on … You can’t just plow through the lesson plans, you must explain thoroughly the facts, relationships, and the integrated concepts … REPEATEDLY! Educators cannot expect students to remember what was said 10 minutes or even 3 minutes ago … Brain-Based Education (It takes time to develop permanent memories) Think sports … how much effort and time does it really take to become minimally skilled … Educators must recognize the tremendous amount of time and effort it really takes to learn “well” … and incorporate that time into class AND DEMAND sufficient homework to force the necessary practice… Brain-Based Education We must re-think how our entire education system is organized … Traditional Model Integrated Model PBL Curriculum Development: The purpose of the next set of slides is to illustrate how to approach the development of a curriculum in Health Science... (not actually describe all the details of the courses in one....) PBL Curriculum Development... start with the problem: What Do You Have To Know and Understand to be an Expert in Health Science? What are all those things that affect our health?... What inside of us gets affected by all those things?... How does that change our health?... How does that change us? How do all those things work?... How do they affect each other?... How can we change those effects?... How can we make good things happen and bad things not happen?... As specific areas of content are identified and interrelationships understood... The concept for a curriculum model is developed and a curriculum starts to appear... Known areas of study are simply placed adjacent to the appropriate concept areas and a developing concept of a Health Science curriculum starts to emerge... (while the relationships might be obvious... the details of interaction are not... and explaining those detailed interactions is what education is all about, eh?) When talking about health one quickly realizes that all things health relate to cell function of one sort or another... Those things that maintain or enhance cell function can be considered to be “healthy” Those things that compromise cell function can be considered to be “unhealthy” Providing a convenient model for a general or introductory course in health at any academic level (but just not quite right yet for a curriculum...) Because what follows is a model for a university-level Health-Science curriculum... The individual course details quickly get very complex... With a focus on cell functions... an introductory-level course in biochemistry and cell biology is necessary as a starting point: (And yes... the next slide is meant to be ridiculously complex) In order to easily understand current concepts in the biological basis of human function and health, a cellular approach is necessary; which means that the first course in a Health Science Curriculum will be an Introduction To Metabolic Biochemistry And Cell Biology Structure Cell Structures Metabolism / Biochemistry Functions Protein Synthesis Damage Cell Division Necrosis Inflammation Once a general model of cellular function has been established (including concepts of normal function, dysfunction, and consequences of damage) other courses are then developed and added to the curriculum: Nutrients... Diet... Human Disease... Learning... Exercise... Sex... Drugs... With a focus on: Metabolic Biochemistry And Cell Biology And How Alterations in Cell Function Affect “Health” (almost there with an overall curriculum concept...) Concepts of Diet & Nutrition are added & the cellular model of “normal” function becomes: Inflammation and concepts of damage and cellular dysfunction are discussed as nutritional deficiencies with clinical health consequences (ie. deficiency diseases)... Inflammation The developing concept of Health is now seen as an interaction between factors that affect cell function(s) and the response to cellular dysfunction & damage and how that response is related to some forms of disease... With the addition of this concept: Health is considered to be the “end-result” of an interaction between factors that affect cell functions & the response to cellular dysfunction and damage & how that response affects cell functions, organ function and whole-body function... It is a simple matter to add in concepts of human disease to that model... (Naturally, every new course starts with a review of metabolic biochemistry and cell biology with an additional emphasis on those functions that are topical within the new course...) By incorporating various aspects of Human Disease into the cellular-function model it becomes evident that disease is a chemical or biochemical process that leads to cellular dysfunction and/or damage and the cellular / organ / systemic response to that damage is the manifestation (symptoms) of the disease Human disease is nothing more than cellular function gone “awry” and mechanisms of disease are really nothing more those specific processes that affect cellular function... Environmental Exposure: estrogenic pesticides increase risk for breast cancer? Heredity: inheriting BRCA1 & BRCA2 genes increases risk for breast cancer? Behaviors: lack of physical activity increases risk for breast cancer? Diet: Red dye #3 in foods alters cellular mechanisms that lead to increased risk for breast cancer? Normal Aging: normal cell division processes in ductal epithelial cells of the breast increases risk for breast cancer over time? Therefore the Conceptual Model of Health becomes: Courses with a strong behavioral component such as: Human Sexuality and Drug Use and Abuse start with the learning / behavioral concepts developed earlier in this presentation while nerve-cell functions (and their interactions on social, formal, and informal learning) appropriate to the specific courses are incorporated as appropriate... Courses in Exercise Science also are important because of the almost universal effects of exercise on cellular metabolism and cell function (think prevention here...) And the Conceptual Model for a Health Science Curriculum becomes: Each course starts with an overview of cell functions & disease mechanisms to re-orient everyone to the health model... Each course then emphasizes the new functions and functional relationships that are specific to the course area... and reviews relationships with relevant functions discussed in all previous courses within the curriculum Adding another course into the curriculum becomes relatively easy... For example: The Biological Basis of Prevention Through Diet & Exercise... Mechanisms of metabolism and regulation of protein synthesis from previous courses are reviewed and then expanded on with new details... Various dietary components and the different effects of exercise that alter Mechanisms Of Disease are emphasized... Resulting in a Detailed analysis of Prevention... and, obviously, (how) Enhancement of Health (works) And the Conceptual Model for the expanded Health Science Curriculum becomes: When relating the resulting model of a health curriculum to other levels of education: graduate school, high school, middle school, elementary school... The ONLY difference is in the degree of detail and level of complexity required Simply consider the individual courses in the university curriculum as chapters in a book on health... Developing an Integrated BBL Curriculum: 1. Comprehensive and detailed analysis of all areas (courses) of study... 2. Understanding of the details of inter-relationships among areas and variables within each area... 3. A Conceptual Framework for each course and for the entire curriculum (including appropriate order... ie. prerequisite courses prior to advanced courses)... 4. Embed review of prior concepts into each course to enhance learning and overall conceptual understanding... 5. Embed review of curriculum concepts into each course to enhance learning and overall conceptual understanding... 6. Embed assessments into each course that forces review of previously covered material in addition to covering new material... Bibliography Benjamin, S. "An Ideascope for Education: What Futurists Recommend." Educational Leadership 47/1 (1989): 8-16. Bonds, C.; Cox, C., III; and Gantt-Bonds, L. "Curriculum Wholeness through Synergistic Teaching." The Clearing House 66/4 (1993): 252-254. http://www.isbe.state.il.us/ils/science/pdf/descriptor_1-5.pdf How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition (2000) commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Center for Education (Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education of the National Academies), National Academy Press Caine, G. and R. N. Caine, and S. Cromwell. Mind shifts: A Brain-Based Process for Restructuring Schools and Renewing Education. Tucson, AZ: Zephyr Press, 1994. Jensen, E. Teaching with the brain in mind. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1998. Jensen, E. Brain-Based Learning: The New Paradigm of Teaching. Thousand Oaks, CA, Corwin Press (A Sage Company), 2008. Humphreys, A.; Post, T.; and Ellis, A. Interdisciplinary Methods: A Thematic Approach. Santa Monica, CA: Goodyear Publishing Company, 1981. Fogarty, R. The Mindful School: How to Integrate the Curricula. Palatine, IL: Skylight Publishing, Inc., 1991. Bonds, C.; Cox, C., III; and Gantt-Bonds, L. "Curriculum Wholeness through Synergistic Teaching." The Clearing House 66/4 (1993): 252-254. http://www.smallschoolsproject.org/PDFS/Planning_Resources/summer2003/summer2003-integrating.pdf - (a truly excellent resource on IC) Friend, H. The Effect of Science and Mathematics Integration on Selected Seventh Grade Students: Attitudes Toward and Achievement in Science. New York: New York City Board of Education, 1984. Berlin, D., and White, A. "Report from the NSF/SSMA Wingspread Conference: A Network for Integrated Science and Mathematics Teaching and Learning." School Science and Mathematics 92/6 (1992): 340-343. Malecki, C. "Teaching Whole Science in a Departmentalized Elementary Setting." Childhood Education 66/4 (1990): 232-237. 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Concept Mapping for the development of medical curricula. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 32 (7), 777-793. Novak, J. D. (1998). Learning, creating, and using knowledge: Concept Maps as facilitative tools in schools and corporations. Mahweh, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. http://informingscience.org/proceedings/InSITE2005/I42f49McDa.pdf How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition. Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Center for Education (Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education of the National Academies), National Academy Press, 2000. Raffaella Molteni, Zhe Ying, Fernando Gómez-Pinilla (2002) Differential effects of acute and chronic exercise on plasticity-related genes in the rat hippocampus revealed by microarray. European Journal of Neuroscience 16 (6), 1107–1116.
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