Four ways neuroscience can inform educational practice

Education stationary. Pencils, notebook, rulers on a desk. Neuroscience and education

Four ways neuroscience can inform educational practice

Neuroscience has the potential for improving educational practice. However, there are still major hurdles to overcome in order to make this connection.

Neuroscience has provided a lot of new and useful information about whats occurring in the brain during learning activities. However, the difficulty lies in the connection between brain activity and how it can best contribute to education and learning via cognitive strategies and learning outcomes.

Four ways neuroscience can inform educational practice

The first way neuroscience can help is to examine the cognitive process during learning. Neuroscience can clarify brain activity in relation to rote learning, high and low cognitive load, and successful and unsuccessful learning strategies. Correspondences between specific patterns of brain activity and and effective learning strategies are a crucial step in this area of brain research and education.

Neuroscience can help clarity differences in brain activity.  For example retention and transfer tests, right and wrong answers, and changes in the brain before and after learning. That is, to find correspondences between brain activity and specific learning outcomes. Differences in patterns of brain activity may help to make sense of differences in learning processes and outcomes.

Neuroscience can identify the boundaries for instructional effects by pinpointing individual differences which affect learning. The roles of prior knowledge, working memory capacity, and achievement  level all effect individual learning outcomes. Patterns of brain activity exhibited by different types of learners can offer insight in terms of individual differences and information processing strategies.

Neuroscience can inform the effects of various instructional strategies and methods on learning outcomes. Learning outcomes are often affected by other factors such as learner motivation, metacognitive processing, or affective states. Neuroscience may be able to detect the level of motivation, metacognitive, and affective states of learners before, during, and after learning and testing. The key is to link these patterns of brain activity and levels of motivation, affective or metacognitive strategies in terms of instructional effectiveness.


The difficulties to overcome in linking neuroscience to education are as follows:

  • Difficulty collecting and analysing neuroscience data.
  • Difficulty on deciphering what patterns of brain activity mean.
  • Determining what are educationally relevant tasks in neuroscience research.

The potential for neuroscience to build connections of educational learning and to inform the science of learning is enormous. Neuroscience can add value to already existing areas of educational psychology research. Neuroscience can charter new territory for teaching and learning informed by brain research.


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