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Brain-based (Compatible) Learning

Brain-based learning focuses on applying what we know about the brain to design effective learning environments. Brain-based learning has been called a combination of brain science and common sense. Hart (1983) called the brain "the organ of learning." He advocated learning more about the brain in order to design effective learning environments.

Caine and Caine (1991) developed twelve principles that apply what we know about the function of the brain to teaching and learning. These principles were derived from an exploration of many disciplines and are viewed as a framework for thinking about teaching methodology. Read Caine and Caine's (1994) Mind/Brain Learning Principles for the principles with brief descriptions. The principles are:

  1. The brain is a complex adaptive system.
  2. The brain is a social brain.
  3. The search for meaning is innate.
  4. The search for meaning occurs through patterning.
  5. Emotions are critical to patterning.
  6. Every brain simultaneously perceives and creates parts and wholes.
  7. Learning involves both focused attention and peripheral attention.
  8. Learning always involves conscious and unconscious processes.
  9. We have at least two ways of organizing memory.
  10. Learning is developmental.
  11. Complex learning is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat.
  12. Every brain is uniquely organized.

For complex learning to occur, Caine and Caine have identified three conditions:

  1. Relaxed alertness - a low threat, high challenge state of mind
  2. Orchestrated immersion - an multiple, complex, authentic experience
  3. Active processing - making meaning through experience processing

The nine brain-compatible elements identified in the ITI (Integrated Thematic Instruction) model designed by Susan Kovalik include: Absence of Threat, Meaningful Content, Choices, Movement to Enhance Learning, Enriched Environment, Adequate Time, Collaboration, Immediate Feedback, and Mastery (application level).

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Learn More

12 Brain/Mind Learning Principles. Caine Learning Institute

Brain Connection

Kovalik, Susan. Integrated Thematic Instruction.

Principles of Learning from INTIME. This paper reflects constructivist ideas.

Teacher Tap: Brain-based (Compatible) Learning

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