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Unit information: Cognitive Neuroscience and Classroom Practice in 2021/22

Unit name Cognitive Neuroscience and Classroom Practice
Unit code EDUCM0078
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Howard-Jones
Open unit status Not open
Pre-requisites

None

Co-requisites

None

School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description

With the advent of new technologies such as neuroimaging, science has been revolutionising our understanding of how, when and why learning occurs. This unit equips students with the ability to take a critical approach to informing educational practice with recent insights from the natural sciences. It is informed by cutting edge research carried out at the University of Bristol in this area, and suitable for those concerned with learning across the full range of ability and across the lifespan.

The unit supports students in developing the skills required for generating and implementing a scheme of work informed by the science of learning, and to critique their plans in terms of their educational appropriateness and the scientific validity of the rationale. In this way, the unit provides opportunities for students to consider their own professional practice as educators, in relation to current understanding of the learning brain.

The aims of the unit are to

  1. provide a deep and critical understanding of past efforts to apply concepts from cognitive neuroscience in the classroom, including common misconceptions about the brain in relation to learning, and how these arise.
  2. develop students’ critical understanding of the mind-brain relationship, and the interrelation of concepts from cognitive neuroscience with those of other learning theories commonly encountered in education.
  3. provide a deep and critical understanding of the potential contribution that cognitive neuroscience can make to educational theory and practice.
  4. provide students with the conceptual frameworks for critically and systematically reviewing their own professional practice in relation to current understanding of the learning brain.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit students should be able to:

  1. critically review past efforts to apply concepts from cognitive neuroscience in the classroom, including common misconceptions about the brain in relation to learning, and demonstrate awareness of how these arise.
  2. demonstrate a critical understanding of the mind-brain relationship, and the interrelation of concepts from cognitive neuroscience with those from learning theories commonly encountered in education
  3. critically review the potential contribution that cognitive neuroscience can make to educational theory and practice
  4. deeply and systematically reflect on their own professional practice in relation to current understanding of the learning brain, demonstrating a critical understanding of the concepts and their interrelation.

Teaching details

This unit will be taught using a blended online approach consisting of a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous activities including seminars, lectures, reading and discussions.

Assessment Details

Formative assessment will arise from group discussions and presentations of initial ideas for the assignment, in terms of the unit of work identified, the proposed pedagogical approach and its underlying scientific basis.

The summative assessment will comprise two parts:

i) Students will be required to provide a poster presentation outlining the scheme and pedagogical approach for a unit of work, with a rationale for its design that is informed by an up-to-date and critical understanding of how the brain learns (1000 words equivalent, 25%, Learning Outcome 4)

ii) Students must provide an essay that sets out their chosen pedagogical approach and critically reviews the scientific validity of its theoretical basis, its alignment with educational understanding and research, and any practical issues involved with its implementation. This review should i) consider the educational relevance of the scientific concepts and suitable limitations on their interpretation, ii) indicate where common misconceptions associated with the scientific concepts may arise and address these, iii) consider critically the extent to which the scientific concepts are aligned with educational research and theories regarding the proposed pedagogical approach and iv) critically consider the educational value provided by the scientific understanding. (3000 words, 75%, Learning Outcomes 1,2,3,4)

Reading and References

  • Della Salla, S, and Anderson, M. (Eds) (2012) Neuroscience in Education: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Geake, J. G. (2009). The Brain at School. Milton Keynes: Open University Press. Horvath, J.C, Lodge, J. M. & Hattie, J. (Eds.) (2017) From the Laboratory to the Classroom: Translating Science of Learning for Teachers, London: Routledge. Howard-Jones, P., Ioannou, K., Bailey, R., Prior, J., Tim, J. and Yau, S. (in press for 2018) Applying the science of learning in the classroom, Impact (Journal of the Chartered College of Teaching). OECD. (2007) Understanding the Brain: Birth of a New Learning Science. (Paris, OECD). Royal Society (2011) Brain Waves Module 2 Final Report: Neuroscience, Education and Lifelong Learning, London: Royal Society. Weisberg, D.S., Keil, F.C., Goodstein, J., Rawson, E., and Gray, J. (2008) The Seductive Lure of Neuroscience Explanations, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 20.3, 470-77. Explanations, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 20.3, 470-77.

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