Neuromyths in the Classroom

Do children really learn better when we cater to their preference in learning? Are there really students whose ability to learn varies when presented with visual versus auditory versus kinaesthetic means of teaching? The current educational system puts a disproportionate amount of emphasis on visual and auditory learning, but science suggests a more equal balance will be beneficial to students learning outcomes.

A study conducted by Paul Howard-Jones in 2012 and published in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience asked teachers in several countries if they believe individuals learn better if they receive information in their preferred learning style. The UK had the lowest number of teachers who agreed with the statement at 93% with the highest being China at 97% agreement.  

The truth is this idea has been repeatedly tested and there is currently no evidence to support it (Newton 2018). Paul associates the above statistic with the lack of neuroscience training of teachers, who are therefore ill-prepared to be critical of ideas and educational programs that claim a neuroscientific basis.

Several other neuromyths were given to teachers to determine whether they were in agreement. Averaging between all countries, about 50% believed we only use 10 percent of our brain and about 85% believe differences in hemispheric dominance (left brain vs. right brain) can help to explain individual differences amongst learners. Both of these statements have been given the term “neuromyth” which is a myth concerning how the brain actually operates.

According to Paul, more  interdisciplinary collaboration between neuroscience and education may help to identify and to address misunderstandings as they arise, and may help to develop concepts and messages that are both scientifically valid and educationally informative. A new field focused on such collaboration is now emerging and will hopefully serve to bridge the gap between neuroscience studies and education.

If you would like to read the full paper you can use the following link (it’s fairly light and easy): https://www.nature.com/articles/nrn3817. Also be sure to stay tuned for some exciting news about the progress of Project SCIFI as well as some more interesting blogs!


Works Cited

Newton, Philip M., and Mahallad Miah. “Evidence-Based Higher Education – Is the Learning Styles ‘Myth’ Important?” Frontiers in Psychology 8 (2017): 444. PMC. Web. 18 Apr. 2018.