Neuroscience and Brain Based Learning Concept In Nursing Education

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Nursing Education and Neuroscience and Brain Based Learning Concept

Neuroscience and Brain Based Learning Concept In Nursing Education

Neuroscience, Brain Based Concept In Nursing Education, Brain Based Learning Concept In Nursing Education, Premise of Brain Base Learning In Nursing Education, Implications for Nursing Education.

Neuroscience, Brain Based Concept In Nursing Education

   In the past, the brain was thought to develop only before birth and childhood. However, it is now known that the brain continues to develop and adapt throughout life as a result of learning. These changes can be observed by neuroscientists through various direct imaging techniques. The ability of neural circuitry to change in structure and function is called neuroplasticity (Kalia, 2008). 

    Changes in the growth of neural branches and number of synapses are enhanced by learning that focuses on “the four major areas of neocortex (Sensory, back-integrative, front-integrative and motor)” (Zull, 2006, p. 5). This can be accomplished through learning that incorporates understanding and comprehension, abstract thinking, and creative building and experimenting. 

    Repetition can speed processing time through neural networks. Additionally, emotions serve to modify neuron signals and strengthen the orbitofrontal cortex (involved in executive brain function) (Cozolino & Sprokay, 2006; Zull, 2006). The direct connection between learning and brain development provides more evidence of the importance and influence of the teaching learning process that occurs within nursing educational settings. 

    Three theories based on concepts of neuroscience are presented here: brain based learning, deep learning, and multiple intelligences (MI). Neuroscience is also providing new insight into how the brains of young learners may differ from their older counterparts. Generation Z and Millennials will begin to make up larger portions of the nursing student population. 

    Auerbach, Buerhaus, and Staiger (2011) conducted a national study and determined that the population of young people, ages 23 through 26, who are entering the registered nursing workforce has been steadily rising since 2002. Prensky (2001) has dubbed those born after 1980s as “digital natives.” They have grown up in a world of 24/7 access to information, entertainment, and communication. 

    They use technologies constantly to access up to 600 channels of TV; surf the Internet; play complex, fast paced, highly visual video games; and engage in all types of social media. The rapid and ongoing use of such technologies affects the neuroplasticity of the brain, specifically chemical processing and development of some neural networks (Bradley Ruder, 2008; Prensky, 2001). 

    These learners are used to multitasking and moving attention quickly from one thing to another. Young learners may also seem impatient at times and are used to immediate results. They are used to learning and sharing with others. Nurse educators can use educational theories, such as a social constructivist approach to ensure their active engagement. 

    Their short attention span, need for immediate feedback, and diverse stimulation, as well as their proficiency in using various technologies, can be used by nurse educators who incorporate technology in their classrooms. This may include Internet videos or group exercises in which information on the Internet must be obtained and used. 

    Revell and McCurry (2010) noted the need to adopt the use of technologies, such as personal response systems in the classroom, to promote the critical thinking, communication skills, and engagement of young learners.

Brain Based Learning Concept In Nursing Education

    The concept of brain-based learning emerged through research in neuroscience, psychology, and biology during the last 30 years and focuses on optimal conditions for the brain to learn (Connell, 2009; Gulpinar, 2005; Jensen, 2008). The field has evolved, as evidenced by other names it has acquired, such as nurturing the brain, neuroscience and education, and educational neuroscience (Petitto & Dunbar, 2009). 

    Early work in the area was noted with Gardner's (1993) MI and right left hemisphere brain function. Complex and interconnected functions in the brain work to process incoming information from memory or external senses and route for immediate action, elimination, or further processing and storage. The way the brain learns is affected by multiple factors, including time of day, nutrition, and stress (Jensen, 2008). 

    Twelve principles of brain learning have been advanced by Caine and Caine (1991). Three of these include the idea that the learning brain continues to develop patterns and reconstruct itself, emotions are essential to pattern development, and learning can be enhanced through nonthreatening challenges. 

    Emotional thought is also related to cognitive function and involves multiple areas of the brain and several processes of decision making, memory, and learning. Thoughts trigger emotions and can be influenced by external information or body sensations (ImmordinoYang & Damasio, 2007). 

    Emotions in learning have been used to further understand connections such as cognitive patterning (Craig, 2003), motivation, and actual engagement and effort (Immordino Yang & Damasio, 2007). Neuroscience indicates that brains learn differently at different ages. 

    Working memory capacity may be similar for simple tasks, but younger learners maintain more working memory when tasks become more complex. Inhibitory control (blocking distracting interferences), cognitive processing speed, and long-term memory storage may be less than that of younger learner peers (Reuter-Lorenz & Park, 2010). 

    This represents challenges for faculty working with adult learners that could, potentially, span three or four generations. Metaanalytical research conducted by Gozuyesil and Dikicl (2014) examined 31 studies and the effect of academic achievement using brain-based learning. The results indicated higher academic achievement in those who had been exposed to brain-based learning.

Premise of Brain Base Learning In Nursing Education

    Learning may be maximized by enhancing the conditions under which the brain learns best:

• Relaxed alertness: a learning environment of high challenge and low threat.

• Orchestrated immersion of learners in authentic, complex, multiple experiences.

• Active, regular processing of experiences to develop meaning (Caine & Caine, 1991). 

    Brain-based learning is effective in further developing learning pathways and deeper learning. It encourages a more holistic view of how the brain, body, and environment affect learning.

Implications for Nursing Education

    Brain based learning is fostered through activities that require knowledge construction and connection to previous knowledge. Examples include authentic case studies that adapt based on new content and initial responses; simulation exercises; group projects; in depth, multifaceted exploration of a patient; and reflection on how and why decisions are made. 

    Any setting can foster brain-based learning that encourages interaction, authentic experiences, and learning challenges balanced in a low-threat environment. It is important for faculty to create and maintain a learning environment that engages learners and encourages expression of the “how and why” of thinking. 

    As the “orchestrator,” faculty need to design learning experiences that help learners to make connections. Faculty need to understand that each learner is unique; Learners attend to and process information in different ways. It is helpful to consider learner diversity and learning style. 

    It is up to the faculty to set the learning environment tone by demonstrating caring, valuing, and trust (Jensen, 2000). Enthusiasm and organization can be helpful in stimulating student motivation to learn. Faculty must also be cognizant of how various age differences can affect the learning brain with regard to areas such as amount and sequencing of content and repetition. 

    Having positive feelings (emotions) and motivation to learn will increase a student's capacity to take in and process information. Coming to class or clinically prepared and well rested can positively influence both emotion and motivation.

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