Sample Brain-Based Learning Essay:
Research on prior knowledge has changed the notion that learning is the absorption of new concepts to the view that it is conceptual change in what one already knows. Conceptual change is the change of a learner’s way of reasoning, perceiving and justification from ordinary ways in which they see the natural world. This idea of prior knowledge complicates the process of learning however. Teachers on one hand get the view that students need to have prior knowledge of the new concepts they learn while the students become prone to misinterpretations of new concepts based on their prior knowledge. Due to these challenges, educators seek to replace, confront or destroy prior knowledge in order for new knowledge to take its place (Gregory & Herndon, 2010). This is due to the fact that there seems to be no bridge from what one already knows to desired knowledge. The schema theory is based on the view that every act of understanding the world involves one’s prior knowledge as well. Reader’s mental stores are referred to as ‘schemata’ and are divided into two main divisions; content schemata, which refer to the background knowledge of the world and formal schemata, which is the background knowledge of rhetorical structure. Reader problems are through research explicitly related to ones memory and prior knowledge. In reading, one must draw information from the message and reconcile it with ones schemata for proper comprehension.
Differences in comprehension therefore arise when people are unable to connect their schemata with the current information they draw from the current context. A good example is humor. People from different backgrounds or who share diverse experiences on the same subject matter for instance, may differ in their response to a joke. This may arise due to difference in ones comprehension of a certain word due to differences in cultural backgrounds or lack of understanding of that word at all. This theory may be used to help people with learning problems due to lack of prior knowledge in certain vocabulary to cope with others. Teachers in their lesson planning need to put in time for pre-reading activities such as showing pictures or videos before teaching students a particular concept. This helps the learners to get a context of whatever they are going to learn. For example when studying someone’s experience with a bear while hiking it would be advisable to answer some basic questions such as where bears are found, the different kinds of bears, how one would react if he was to meet a bear in the wild and what one should do in such a situation. This helps in giving someone an idea of what to expect and hopefully it activates ones schemata. Another example could be in a case where one is to read about camping in north England. It would be good for one to address questions such as what challenges one is likely to experience during camping and what new words one is likely to encounter when reading a passage on camping e.g. snow, freezing, slipping, disaster etc (Jensen & Jensen, 2008).
Those who design the interactive experiences need to develop some sensitivity to the different viewpoints that learners bring to an experience. For one to become sensitive to the prior knowledge of an individual one has to look and listen keenly as learner’s make use of the materials. There are three methods researchers use to investigate prior knowledge and these include getting the learners to talk and also paying a lot of attention to what they say and do. The first method is clinical interview which is used to figure out the sense-making of children. It usually involves a case where learners have to manipulate some physical materials and then answer questions on their actions. The result of all these processes gives a great detail about the prior knowledge of the learner (Gregory & Herndon, 2010). The second technique is referred to as the think-aloud the learner is taught how to verbalize what they are thinking and not how to justify his/her actions. As a result this shows the evidence of the prior knowledge. The third method involves use of video recording. A small group of learners is set to work on a similar task and this is recorded. After the recording learners may be given a chance to explain their behavior. Repeated viewing helps the investigator to sense prior knowledge of the learner.
Gregory, Gayle, & Herndon, Lynne E. (2010). Differentiated instructional strategies for the block schedule. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin Press.
Jensen, Eric, & Jensen, Eric. (2008). Brain-based learning : the new paradigm of teaching (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA.: Corwin Press.

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