Neurosciene of Learning

Neuroscientists have uncovered the fascinating interplay between our emotional and cognitive brain systems. The limbic system, located just above the brain stem, is the maestro of our emotional responses. Every piece of information that enters our brain first gets processed in this emotional centre before moving on to the cognitive, or “thinking,” centre in the frontal lobe. This initial processing in the emotional centre means that chronic stress can disrupt our long-term memory and deep learning, which is crucial for adult training and learning.

While trainers can’t wave a magic wand to eliminate all stress from learners’ lives, they can certainly remove stress-inducing practices in training sessions and enhance those that promote positive emotions. Research indicates that threats hinder learning, while positive emotional experiences—where the brain releases a delightful cocktail of neurotransmitters—can significantly enhance long-term memory.

In highly effective adult training programmes, trainers should intentionally create positive emotional connections within each module. This includes designing activities that emotionally engage learners with the content. Think of it as adding zest to a recipe—incorporate group discussions, role-playing, and multimedia presentations to liven up the learning experience. By engaging learners’ emotional response systems, you’ll make each training module not just educational but also memorable

Engaging adult learners effectively involves understanding how the brain processes information and responds to stimuli. Here’s a seven-step process based on neuroscience principles to engage adult learners:

1. Establish Relevance

Neuroscience Principle: The brain prioritizes information that is relevant to personal goals and needs.

Action: Begin by explaining how the content relates to the learners’ personal and professional lives. Use real-world examples and case studies that demonstrate the practical applications of the material.

2. Stimulate Curiosity

Neuroscience Principle: The brain is naturally curious and seeks to fill gaps in knowledge.

Action: Pose thought-provoking questions or present scenarios that challenge existing knowledge. Create a sense of mystery or present problems that need to be solved, encouraging learners to seek out new information.

3. Create a Positive Learning Environment

Neuroscience Principle: Positive emotions enhance the brain’s ability to process and retain information.

Action: Foster a supportive and inclusive atmosphere. Encourage collaboration and interaction among learners. Recognize achievements and provide constructive feedback to maintain motivation.

4. Use Active Learning Techniques

Neuroscience Principle: Active engagement enhances neural connections and memory retention.

Action: Incorporate activities that require active participation, such as group discussions, hands-on exercises, role-playing, and simulations. Encourage learners to apply concepts in practical settings.

5. Integrate Multisensory Learning

Neuroscience Principle: The brain processes information more effectively when multiple senses are engaged.

Action: Use a variety of teaching methods that involve visual, auditory, and kinesthetic elements. Include videos, infographics, interactive demonstrations, and physical activities to reinforce learning.

6. Encourage Reflective Thinking

Neuroscience Principle: Reflection helps consolidate learning by strengthening neural pathways.

Action: Allocate time for learners to reflect on what they have learned and how it applies to their lives. Use journals, discussion forums, or debrief sessions to encourage this reflective practice.

7. Provide Opportunities for Practice and Application

Neuroscience Principle: Repeated practice strengthens neural connections and aids in the transfer of learning to long-term memory.

Action: Design activities that allow learners to practice new skills and apply knowledge in various contexts. Provide continuous opportunities for practice through assignments, projects, and real-life applications.

Implementation Example

Step 1: Establish Relevance

  • Start with a brief overview of how the upcoming module will enhance job performance or personal growth.
  • Example: “Understanding advanced Excel functions will help streamline your work processes and improve productivity.”

Step 2: Stimulate Curiosity

  • Present a challenging Excel-related problem that they might face in their daily tasks.
  • Example: “How can you use Excel to forecast sales trends for the next quarter?”

Step 3: Create a Positive Learning Environment

  • Begin with an icebreaker activity related to Excel experiences.
  • Example: “Share your most significant Excel success story.”

Step 4: Use Active Learning Techniques

  • Conduct a group activity where learners work together to solve an Excel-based case study.
  • Example: “Collaborate to create a sales dashboard using advanced functions.”

Step 5: Integrate Multisensory Learning

  • Use videos and live demonstrations to show Excel techniques.
  • Example: “Watch this video on creating pivot tables, then follow along on your computer.”

Step 6: Encourage Reflective Thinking

  • After completing the exercises, ask learners to write about how these new skills will impact their work.
  • Example: “Reflect on how the use of pivot tables can help you in your current projects.”

Step 7: Provide Opportunities for Practice and Application

  • Assign a project where learners create a comprehensive Excel report for a hypothetical scenario.
  • Example: “Prepare a detailed sales analysis report using the skills learned today.”

By following these steps, you can create a dynamic and engaging learning experience that leverages the principles of neuroscience to maximize adult learners’ engagement and retention.

Related Articles