EDGR535 Concordia University Brain and Learning Discussion

The Brain and Learning, Studying and Testing

Choose a prompt from one of the following options:

Option 1: The Brain and Learning

After reading chapters 1 and 2 in the text (Carey, 2014), write a 2- to 3-paragraph discussion about the most surprising fact you discovered in your reading. Choose a fact that informs your work, life, or relationships with family or children. This is about your learning, your needs, and your discoveries, written in a scholarly fashion.


Option 2: Studying and Testing

Based on what you read in chapters 3, 4, and 5 of the text (Carey, 2014), identify 2 or 3 recommendations you would make to your school administration or district about the current testing practices in place in your district. These recommendations may be in support of your current practices or they may be recommendations for change (with material from the text as your rationale). Provide enough context to understand what you are explaining that may be specific to your district. If you are not currently teaching, please identify a context for learning where you can apply these ideas.

Support your statements with evidence from the required studies and your research. Cite and reference your sources in APA style.

Learning Theory and Teaching Styles

This week will focus on how people learn and how they act while they learn. You will learn about how research has identified the way the brain works when learning. Then you will reflect on what this means about YOU as a learner first, and then apply that knowledge to your classroom or workplace.

Traditional teaching, called “transmission teaching” (teacher tells student and student allegedly learns the information), assumes “that all students should learn the same things in the same way at the same time,” so they can be assessed at the same time (Oakes & Lipton, 1999, p. 197, emphasis provided). One veteran administrator acerbically calls this type of teaching the “get ‘em in, teach ‘em up, kick ‘em out” model.

For teachers working in a high-stakes, standards-based environment, Sternberg (1999) sympathizes: “Virtually all teachers operate under the same pressures: They need to teach to tests” (p. 5). But when the students take longer to learn than anticipated because “lessons hardly ever go exactly the way they are planned,” the outcomes can be quite deleterious—from the quashing of student creativity to class disruptions and escalation of preventable negative behaviors.

Parents and teachers may discuss student differences, analyze them and even plan for them, but evidence shows that traditional classroom practices consistently remain transmission- and teacher-centered. That means lecture, quiz, test, lecture, quiz, test. This is called “conceptual learning.” The problem is 70% of teachers are conceptual learners (they survived the system, some might say!) and 70% of their students are NOT. The classroom reality is 70% of K-12 students are contextual learners.

The topic for exploration this week helps you to enter the world of how people learn and what researchers have learned about how information enters (and supposedly leaves) the brain. Reflecting on these processes through the lens of your own experiences with learning will help you to consider what works for you, but also be aware of the information that is out there impacting how your students learn.


Oakes, J., & Lipton, M. (1999). Teaching to change the world. Boston, MA: McGraw Hill.

Sternberg, R. J. (1999). Thinking styles. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Weekly Objectives

Through participation in the following activities, the candidate will:

  • Identify and explain the significance of cognitive science research in teaching and learning. (1d, 1e, 2j, 8j)
    • The Brain and Learning and Studying and Testing
    • Explaining Learning

Required Studies

The following materials are required studies for this week. Complete these studies at the beginning of the week, and save these materials for future use. Full references for these materials are listed in the Required Course Materials section of the syllabus.

How We Learn (Carey, 2014)
  • Chapter 1: The Story Maker
  • Chapter 2: The Power of Forgetting
  • Chapter 3: Breaking Good Habits
  • Chapter 4: Spacing Out
  • Chapter 5: The Hidden Value of Ignorance

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