Learning and the Brain

Brain By dierk schaefer

Brain By dierk schaefer

How does the brain impact learning?

Recent research on how the brain processes information may have significant implications for teaching and learning. According to Clemons, for successful brain-based learning to occur “everyone involved in the learning process (online course developers, educators, students) to understand the structure of the brain and consciously focus on learners needs and styles to evaluate and improve the course format and delivery system.”


  1. Six Tips for Brain-Based Learning Emphasize feedback and embrace the power of novelty are two tips that resonated with me.
  2. The 2013 CETL Spring Forum featured Dr. Stephen Carroll who shared his work on meta-cognition. For more about his work and for the slides he used in his presentation and workshop, please go to http://metalearninghabits.org/slides-for-st-cloud-lecture/.
  3. [ebook] How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School (Bransford, Brown, and Cocking, Eds., 1999)  I found the chapter on how novices differ from experts particularly interesting with regards to how I teach library research.
  4. In 2011, CETL sponsored a special workshop on Learning and the Brain and recorded the sessions.
  5. The New Science of Learning: How to Learn in Harmony with Your Brain by Terry Doyle and Todd Zakrajsek.

What about you?

  • What’s one way you could incorporate how the brain works into your teaching?
  • Do you teach differently to freshmen than you do to seniors? How so?
  • How do you create a safe classroom environment for learning?
  • What resources have you used to learn about the brain?

About the Author: Robin Ewing is an Associate Professor in the library and is currently the assessment librarian.

Want to try student peer review in your class? Check out these resources.

Photo from college.library


What is student peer review?

Student peer review, sometimes called peer editing, is a teaching strategy that requires students to provide constructive feedback on each other’s work. Here are some resources to get started:

  1. Introducing Students to Peer Review of Writing
    Richard Chisholm introduces peer review to his students by first having them practice on a piece of his own writing.
  2. How to Plan and Guide In-Class Peer-Review Sessions – Washington University in St. Louis
    This guide provides guidance on how peer review can fit into your syllabus from the scheduling to the grading.
  3. Using Peer Review to Help Students Improve Their Writing – Washington University in St. Louis

Already using peer review? Consult these resources on how to improve the process.

  1. Improving Student Peer Feedback [StarID required to access]
    Linda Nilson describes the potential pitfalls of peer review and offers advice on overcoming the challenges.
  2. Peer Editing Could Use Some Revision [StarID required to access]
    Trela Anderson describes how to improve peer editing and decrease student frustration.

What about you?

  • How would you prepare your students for peer review?
  • How could peer review improve your students’ learning?
  • Would peer review increase or decrease your grading load?

About the Author: Robin Ewing is an Associate Professor in the library and is currently the assessment librarian.