The study of learning is an important area of science. It takes cognitive neuroscience, learning analytics, data science, behavioral economics, and educational psychology, and it finds solutions that work to help children learn better. Paul Ownby, the senior product manager at Learning.com, explains that real learning happens when the three systems of the brain are active at the same time. These three systems are thinking, sensing, and feeling.
The prefrontal cortex of the brain is where decisions are made and problems are solved. This includes setting goals, planning, strategies, and reflection. The way to engage this part of the brain is by eliciting reasoning from the student. Digital instruction needs to allow students to set a schedule and use reason to work out problems.
This system of the brain includes anything that activates the senses, such as seeing, touching, hearing, smelling, or tasting. Digital instruction can engage a student’s sensing by having images accompany spelling words, or creating a song out of information. By combining a lesson with musicality, the systems of the brain are engaged, and this increases learning.
Feeling is how the student feels. When a student is upset or stressed out, his or her learning capacity decreases. However, when a student is happy and having fun, his or her learning is increased. Digital instruction should bring learning together with experiences that make a student happy to simultaneously activate two systems of the brain. If a student is happy when a new topic is introduced, he or she will be more likely to remember it because it has a positive feeling associated with it.
The more that digital instruction is able to engage all three systems of the brain, the more positive a student’s learning experience will be. People in general have an easier time remembering things that have a positive feeling associated with them. In addition, since humans have a natural desire to figure things out, engaging the thinking system of the brain will provide this opportunity. Digital instruction that can engage all three systems of the brain to function together will make learning more productive.