About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 6985-6989
Publication year: 2011
ISBN: 978-84-615-3324-4
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain

WHAT CAN NEUROSCIENCE TEACH US ABOUT PROBLEM BASED LEARNING?

W.T. O'Connor

University of Limerick, Graduate Medical School (IRELAND)
Some people think of intelligence as a reflection of individual problem-solving skills. However, a powerful aspect of intelligence is the ability to solve problems collaboratively and humans have special brain and cognitive mechanisms for social interaction (Meltzoff, Kuhl, Movellan and Sejnowski 2009). This makes social interaction a powerful catalyst for learning and in this learning environment discovery learning comes more readily from the intellectual power of the group rather than from studying alone.

The recent discovery of mirror neurons which help us to emotionally imitate others by responding sympathetically and empathetically engages parts of the brain that deal with social interaction and empathy (Rizzolatti and Fabbri-Destro 2009). Mirror neurons help us to respond sympathetically towards others and allow us to anticipative others intentions. In this way social learning is facilitated when people share attention. This finding is of particular interest to cognitive neuroscience which addresses the questions of how psychological/cognitive functions are produced by brain circuits. Problem based learning (Finucane, Johnson and Prideaux 1998) is a good example of a learning environment that capitalizes on social interaction rather than have the students work alone at desks.

The study of perception, learning, memory and recall are converging to unite education with neuroscience - the scientific study of the nervous system - around the emerging field of neuroeducation. This paper contributes to this dialogue by summarising what we already know about shared attention and the learning process in the brain and suggests how it might inform the teaching/learning process in problem based learning.

References:
Finucane, P.M., Johnson, S.M., Prideaux, D.J. (1998) ‘Problem-based learning: its rationale and efficacy’, Med J Aust., 168 (9), 445-8.
Meltzoff, A.N., Kuhl, P.K., Movellan, J., Sejnowski, T.J. (2009) ‘Foundations for a new science of learning, Science, 325, 5938, 284 – 288.
Rizzolatti, G. and Fabbri-Destro, M. (2009) ‘The mirror neuron system’, Handbook of Neuroscience for the Behavioural Sciences. Wiley Online.
@InProceedings{OCONNOR2011WHA,
author = {O'Connor, W.T.},
title = {WHAT CAN NEUROSCIENCE TEACH US ABOUT PROBLEM BASED LEARNING?},
series = {4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2011 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-615-3324-4},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Madrid, Spain},
month = {14-16 November, 2011},
year = {2011},
pages = {6985-6989}}
TY - CONF
AU - W.T. O'Connor
TI - WHAT CAN NEUROSCIENCE TEACH US ABOUT PROBLEM BASED LEARNING?
SN - 978-84-615-3324-4/2340-1095
PY - 2011
Y1 - 14-16 November, 2011
CI - Madrid, Spain
JO - 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2011 Proceedings
SP - 6985
EP - 6989
ER -
W.T. O'Connor (2011) WHAT CAN NEUROSCIENCE TEACH US ABOUT PROBLEM BASED LEARNING?, ICERI2011 Proceedings, pp. 6985-6989.
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