NEUROFILES Dr Rebecca Torrance Jenkins

Evidence

Informed

Teaching

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We practise what we preach. For example, during our training… •	We keep it stress-free.  When learning new material, performance declines by at least 30% when students are placed in a stressful situation (Schwabe & Wolf 2010), and in our experience, the same applies to adults.  Whilst mild stress in certain situations may enhance performance, prolonged stress diminishes the brain’s capacity to acquire, keep, and recall information (Joëls et al. 2006). Thus, “setting the emotional climate for learning may be the single most important task a teacher embarks on each day” (Hardiman 2012:35).  •	 We insist on regular brain breaks, just for a few minutes, to allow neurotransmitter chemicals to be restored so that they are available for future activation.  This is particularly the case when content is complex, because if “the neurotransmitters are not being replenished as fast as they are being used” (Willis 2006:27) memory efficiency is diminished.   •	We provide a big-picture concept map of our training, and refer back to it regularly. This is because all new learning links itself to a foundation of prior knowledge, (Brown et al 2014:5). Numerous “studies have demonstrated increases in conceptual understanding, memory, and academic achievement when using concept mapping” (Hardiman 2012:81).  •	We make sure our teaching is multi-modal and multi-sensory, thus providing brains with more opportunity to build more dendritic pathways as the “more regions of the brain that store data about a subject, the more interconnection there is” (Willis 2006:4) and the more robust memory is.   •	We infuse the atmosphere with rosemary, because rosemary raises blood plasma levels of 1,8 cineole, which increases the amount of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine available to the brain, which improves memory creation and recall (Moss & Oliver 2012). •	And much, much more!
Education is about enhancing learning, and neuroscience is about understanding the mental processes involved in learning Royal Society, 2011