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Unit information: Brain, Mind and Education in 2018/19

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Unit name Brain, Mind and Education
Unit code EDUCM5404
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
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

This unit is aimed chiefly at providing students with an understanding of the complex interrelationship of mind, brain and behaviour. It will include the key areas of biological psychology including those providing insights into developmental disorders and the role of psychopharmacological drugs in their management. It will draw heavily upon the rapidly developing field of cognitive neuroscience.

Through engaging in this unit, students will gain a critical understanding of experimental design as it relates to brain functioning, taking into consideration the research management of neuroimaging and risk assessment procedures. Students will also debate the ethics of conducting research with animals and the replicability and reproducibility of brain imaging studies.

The aims of the unit are to:

  • develop an understanding and critical appreciation of current models of mind/brain/behaviour relationships, focusing particularly upon those issues pertinent to learning in educational contexts;
  • facilitate access to primary neuroscientific literature that is of interest to those involved with education;
  • develop a critical awareness of the insights and limitations of techniques such neuroimaging in the investigation of cognitive mechanisms, developmental disorders and the effects of psychopharmacological drugs;
  • develop awareness of recent research in areas of cognitive neuroscience pertinent to education and its relationship to evidence arising from other disciplines.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. explain the basic terminology, principles and concepts associated with the central nervous system and neurocognition, including basic neurochemistry and neurophysiology of nerve transmission, the structure and organisation of the CNS, cortical localisation of function, and the biological basis of psychological abnormalities;
  2. explain the current understanding of mind/brain/behaviour relationships, and how their investigation requires a multidisciplinary approach that includes empirical behavioural data, physiological measurements (e.g. neuroimaging), observation and evolutionary perspectives;
  3. explain, in terms of neurocognitive function, aspects of perception, attention, learning, memory, motivation & emotion, sleep and arousal, and their significance in developmental and educational contexts.
  4. Explain, in neurocognitive terms, the current understanding of a range of developmental disorders pertinent to education, and the actions of psychopharmacological drugs in terms of their influence upon brain mechanisms (e.g. Methylphenidate in the treatment of ADHD);
  5. make links/connections and recognise associations/relationships between the neurocognitive concepts explained in this unit and concepts encountered elsewhere, including those associated with developmental disorders such as dyslexia.

Teaching details

The teaching strategy will employ two broad approaches, where appropriate, with the aims of contextualising as well as theorising concepts, developing student autonomy and promoting individualised study and support. These approaches will also encourage development of the oral, written and team-working skills required to discuss and explore concepts in small and larger groups.

Face to Face teaching Large and small group teaching methods will include presentations by staff and students, discussion, analysis of preparatory texts and practical tasks involving anatomical models.

ELearning ELearning approaches will augment face-to-face teaching to facilitate individualised study and support within the broad parameters of the unit and the pathway. These will include: on-line discussion, online supervision and peer mentoring/feedback.

The needs of a wide range of students, including those with disabilities, international students and those from ethnic minority backgrounds have been considered. It is not anticipated that the teaching and assessment methods used will cause disadvantage to any person taking the unit. The Graduate School of Education is happy to address individual support requests as necessary.

Assessment Details

Formative assessment

This will include an opportunity to present an initial draft of their poster and receive verbal feedback from peers and tutors.

Summative assessment

Assessment begins with a written, multiple-choice question (MCQ) examination on brain anatomy, development and function (25%). This will assess students’ knowledge of basic terminology, principles and concepts associated with the central nervous system and neurocognition, including basic neurochemistry and neurophysiology of nerve transmission, the structure and organisation of the CNS and cortical localisation of function. ILO 1

Students will select an appropriate topic for the remaining part of their assignment and exploring their chosen topic in terms of neurocognitive function. They will produce a poster and essay (together 75% of assessment, 3,000 words equivalent) that reviews the cognitive neuroscience of this topic with appropriate and extensive use of the terminology, principles and concepts associated with the central nervous system and neurocognition. The poster assesses students’ ability to explain visually their critical understanding of neurocognitive processes underlying their chosen topic. The essay will assess students’ ability to analyse relevant texts and synthesise concepts from cognitive neuroscience, psychology and education, to make links/connections and recognise associations/relationships between these concepts, and to draw upon current understanding of mind/brain/behaviour relationships. Students will be expected to develop balanced arguments that reflect a multidisciplinary awareness and an ability to contextualise concepts, and draw appropriately upon a wide range of evidence that includes empirical behavioural data, physiological measurements (e.g. neuroimaging), observation and evolutionary perspectives. ILO 1-5

Reading and References

Howard-Jones, P. (2010) Introducing Neuroeducational Research, Abingdon: Routledge.

Ward, J. (2015) A Student’s Guide to Cognitive Neuroscience (3rd Ed). New York: Psychology Press.

Blakemore, S-J and Frith, U. (2005) The Learning Brain: Lessons for Education, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Gazzaniga, M.S., Ivry, R.B. and Mangun, G.R. (2014) Cognitive Neuroscience: the biology of the mind, 4 th Edition NY: WW Norton and Company. MSc Neuroscience and Education - Supplement to Student Handbook 15/16 9 Pinel, J. (2014) Biopsychology, 8 th edition, New York: Allyn and Bacon.

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