How the Brain Learns: A Quick Summary

Written by Celia Franzè. At ThinkPlus most of our schools, both in the classroom and the staffroom, have started the year off with teaching and learning about the Brain! Dr Jared Cooney Horvath and I presented a webinar recently and we used this content to create a very easy reference for thinking about neuroplasticity as educators.
We hope this set of short ways for understanding how the brain learns is a great source of inspiration for 2024.

Recall as a Learning Tool
• Begin meetings by recalling previous discussions.
• End meetings with group notes to summarise topics.
• Use email blasts to remind about key topics.
• Aim to build deep memories through recall.

Passive Review vs. Active Recall
• Most people passively review by rereading or re-watching.
• Active recall, like quizzing or teaching others, is more effective.
• Turn study time into active recall sessions.

Memory Games
• The primacy effect: We remember the first items in a list.
• The recency effect: We remember the last items in a list.
• False memories can be easily created by suggesting related concepts.

Memory Mechanics
• Memories are not fixed; they can be rewritten.
• Every time a memory is recalled, it can be altered.
• Recall deepens memories, while feedback ensures accuracy.

Hurdles in Transfer Knowledge
• Skill transfer requires understanding new domain knowledge.
• Contextualisation is key: Skills change based on context.

Collaboration Varies by Context
• In an operating room, collaboration means trusting each other’s expertise.
• In a lab, collaboration involves debating expertise.
• In innovation hubs, collaboration is about collective expertise.

Contextualisation Levels
• Activate and associate knowledge.
• Group facts into coherent units or concepts.
• Organising information aids in memory retention.

This summary provides a great overview of the key points on how the brain learns and the importance of recall, contextualisation, and understanding the nuances of memory but there is much, much more to understand about the importance of neuroplasticity. At ThinkPlus this is part of the Science of Growing Young Minds!