Every student is unique in their own way. Life experiences (whether they are positive or negative), personal interests, and thought processes, influences the manner in which a student acquires, processes, and utilize knowledge. Borich states, “By reflecting on their own experiences students may change what they believe, discard old information for new information, and question, explore, and assess what they know.” (2007, p. 262). There are six key principles of brain-based learning that influence how we learn.
The first key principle of brain-based learning is the importance of meaningful learning. In order for students to succeed in school, they must make sense of the knowledge acquired. It is difficult to make sense of information if it is nonsense. Meaningful learning is non-arbitrary; meaning the information presented is not random and must have a correlation to concepts in which they have already been exposed. Jack Hassard of Georgia State University, states, David Ausubel, a psychologist suggested that, “[For students] to learn meaningfully, students must relate new knowledge (concepts and propositions) to what they already know.” (2003).
The second key principle of brain-based learning is knowledge background. Ironically, the extent of knowledge a person absorbs is highly influenced by what they already know. Background knowledge is the foundation on which students build upon when attaining new knowledge. Personal interest plays a significant role in background knowledge. Slavin states, “Learners who know a great deal about a subject have a more well-developed schemata for incorporating knew knowledge.” (2009, p. 182).
Levels-of-processing is the third key principal of brain-based learning. This theory states the more information or detail known about a particular subject, the more likely the learner will remember it. There are three intensities of levels-of-processing. A learner is less likely to remember the lowest level of processing. For example, a learner may see a dog. Unless there is more detail given about this dog, it is not likely to be remembered. Given more detail about this dog, for example a brown Chihuahua, this dog is slightly more likely to be remembered. Giving meaning to this brown Chihuahua is the highest level of processing. For example, on your paper route, you were chased by a brown Chihuahua for two miles before it tired. You were then able to resume delivering papers. According to Slavin, “… the more you attend to the details of a stimulus, the more mental processing you must do with a stimulus and the more likely you are to remember it.” (2009, p.167).
Development of neural connections is another key principal of brain-based learning. In recent years, innovative neurological equipment and progressive research has made incredible advances in understanding brain physiology, functions, and development of neural connections. Higher learning and memory directly correlates to the number of neural connections. It was once thought that the number of neural connections was set at birth. It is now know that “stimulation early in a child’s development relates to the number of neural connections…” (Slavin, 2009, p. 168). After 18 months, the number of neural connections decline; losing the connections that are not being used. Fortunately, as a person gains knowledge, the brain becomes more efficient. K. Wesson reveals that, “The more frequently that neurons linked together fire together, the greater is the likelihood that they will fire in unison on a subsequent occasion, which results in permanently hardwiring together…” (2003).
The next key principle is the relevance of brain-based learning. It is not enough to restructure our educational system with new laws and practices in hopes that these reforms will improve a student’s ability to learn. However, new discoveries are being made in neurological and cognitive science every day that is…