Delve Institute of Learning Research

Boosting Learning Potential: How Brain-Based Learning Ignites Cognitive Development

Brain-Based Learning in Classrooms - Delve Institute 700 x 350

In an era where traditional teaching methods no longer cut it, educators are constantly searching for innovative ways to enhance learning potential. That’s where brain-based learning steps in, igniting cognitive development like never before.

By understanding how the brain organizes and retains information, educators can tailor their teaching techniques to maximize student engagement and retention. Brain-based learning goes beyond the superficial level of simply memorizing facts and figures. It delves into the intricate workings of the brain, leveraging its natural processes to build strong neural connections and improve overall cognitive abilities.

This approach takes into account the uniqueness of each student’s brain and provides customized strategies to optimize their learning experience. By bringing neuroscience into the classroom, brain-based learning empowers teachers to create dynamic learning environments that captivate students’ attention and spark their curiosity. From incorporating movement and sensory experiences to utilizing technology and interactive activities, brain-based learning revolutionizes education by aligning teaching methods with the way our brains learn best.

Join us as we unravel the secrets behind brain-based learning and explore its potential in boosting cognitive development. Get ready to unleash your students’ learning potential and create a vibrant classroom where minds flourish.

Understanding the Brain and Its Role in Learning

Human and primate brains are highly skilled at grouping objects into categories, even with just a brief look. We can easily tell the difference between a cat and a car, a hamburger and a rock, or a person and a road sign. This ability to categorize and interpret the vast amount of visual information we receive is essential for our everyday functioning and influences nearly every choice we make.

Students should be given opportunities to learn new things and to stretch their thinking skills. However, the challenges should be appropriate for the students’ individual abilities and should not lead to frustration.


The brain plays a crucial role in learning. According to the American Psychological Association1, the brain begins to mature even before birth and continues to mature throughout most of life. Most learning in the brain involves rewiring or making and strengthening connections between neurons, the cells of your brain most crucial for learning2. The cerebellum contributes to emotional responses, helps us discriminate between different sounds and textures, and is important in learning3. For UChicago neuroscientist David Freedman, the key to understanding the brain’s ability to learn is to focus on a specific cognitive function where learning, memory and decision-making all intersect-visual categorization.

Project-Based Learning is a method that involves students in a long-term in-depth investigation of a real-world challenge.

The Science Behind Brain-Based Learning

Brain-based learning is using what we know about how the brain learns to develop teaching methods. It’s also important to remember that brain-based learning is not a silver bullet for all educational problems.

Brain-based learning is an educational approach to teaching that purposefully engages principles derived from solid scientific research (like Science of Reading) mainly in the field of neuroscience and psychology, but also psychoimmunology, behavioral genetics, psychobiology, cognitive science, and computational simulations41. It involves a teaching method that limits lectures and encourages exercise breaks, team learning, and peer teaching. Brain-based learning centers around neuroplasticity, or the remapping of the brain’s connections when learning new concepts.

Benefits of Brain-Based Learning for Cognitive Development

Brain-based learning emphasizes practice (such as project based learning and spiral review) because it helps students learn and retain new information better. It also helps students set realistic goals and expectations by showing them their progress over time. Additionally, students who practice regularly become more fluent in applying their knowledge, which means they can use it more quickly and effortlessly.

– Advantages of Brain-Based Learning in ELT Classrooms (Science Direct)
– Importance of Brain-Based Learning in Effective Teaching Process (Springer Link, Neural Systemic Applications in Learning)

Brain-Based Learning and Cognitive Development

Cognitive development is the process of acquiring and using knowledge and skills. It is a complex process that is influenced by a variety of factors, including genetics, environment, and experiences.

Brain-based learning and cognitive development are closely intertwined. Ignite cognitive development by helping students to:

  • Develop their attention skills. The ability to focus and sustain attention is essential for learning. Incorporate activities that require students to focus on specific tasks and to shift their attention between different stimuli.
  • Build their memory. The brain stores information in different ways, and brain-based learning strategies can help students to develop different memory strategies. For example, students may be encouraged to use mnemonic devices, to create mental images, or to connect new information to existing knowledge.
  • Develop their problem-solving skills. Involve challenges and opportunities for students to solve problems. This helps students to develop their critical thinking skills and to learn how to apply their knowledge in new situations.
  • Develop their creativity. Brain-based learning strategies often encourage students to think outside the box and come up with new ideas. This helps students to develop their creativity and to become more engaged in their learning.

In addition to promoting cognitive development, this learning approach can help students develop other skills, such as motivation, self-regulation, and resilience.

Strategies for Implementing Brain-Based Learning in the Classroom

Brain-based learning strategies include physical movement, socialization, differentiation, chunk learning, creativity, emotional connections, stress management and studying brain development.

  1. Set a positive tone from the beginning. Create a supportive and encouraging environment where students feel safe and motivated to learn.
  2. Establish “turn and talk” time. Encourage students to discuss what they have learned with their peers, which can enhance their retention and understanding.
  3. Incorporate visual elements. Use images, diagrams, videos, and other visual aids to appeal to visual learners and stimulate multiple brain regions.
  4. Use games and simulations. Engage students in interactive and immersive activities that challenge their problem-solving skills and foster their creativity.
  5. Provide feedback and reflection. Help students monitor their own learning progress and identify their strengths and weaknesses.
  6. Connect learning to real-life situations. Make learning relevant and meaningful by showing students how the concepts they learn apply to their own lives and interests.
  7. Vary the pace and intensity of learning. Avoid monotony and boredom by changing the speed, level, and mode of instruction according to the students’ needs and preferences.
  8. Encourage movement and physical activity. Boost students’ energy, attention, and memory by incorporating movement breaks, gestures, and exercises into the learning process.
  9. Using technology to create personalized learning experiences. Technology can be used to provide students with individualized instruction and to tailor learning activities to their specific needs.

Creating an Optimal Learning Environment for Brain-Based Learning

To create an optimal learning environment, it is important to consider the following factors:

  • Engagement: The learning environment should be engaging and stimulating. This can be achieved by using a variety of teaching methods and activities, such as hands-on activities, simulations, and group work.
  • Variety: The learning environment should offer a variety of learning experiences to accommodate different learning styles and needs. This can be achieved by providing students with choices about how they learn and by using a variety of resources, such as technology, multimedia, and real-world objects.
  • Challenge: The learning environment should be challenging but not overwhelming. Students should be given opportunities to learn new things and to stretch their thinking skills. However, the challenges should be appropriate for the students’ individual abilities and should not lead to frustration.
  • Support: The learning environment should be supportive and encouraging. Students should feel safe and comfortable taking risks and making mistakes. They should also feel supported by their teachers and peers.

Incorporating Technology in Learning

  • Interactive whiteboards: Teachers can use interactive whiteboards to create interactive presentations, conduct group activities, and provide feedback to students.
  • Online quizzes: Online quizzes allow students to work at their own pace and receive immediate feedback on correct answers.
  • Response systems: Teachers can use response systems to collect real-time feedback from students on their understanding of a topic. This feedback can be used to adjust instruction and to ensure that all students are learning.
  • Mobile devices: Students can use mobile devices to access educational resources, complete assignments, and collaborate with classmates. For example, students can use mobile devices to take notes, read e-books, and participate in online discussions.
  • EdTech tools: EdTech tools can be used to support learning in a variety of ways. For example, learning management systems can be used to deliver and track student progress on online courses.
  • Online games: Educational games can be used to make learning more fun and engaging. And simulations can be used to provide students with realistic experiences of real-world situations.
  1. Research in brain function and learning ( ↩︎
  2. IBE — Science of learning portal — Neuroplasticity: How the brain changes with learning ( ↩︎
  3. 3.2 Our Brains Control Our Thoughts, Feelings, and Behavior – Introduction to Psychology ( ↩︎
  4. OECD International Conference PDF ( ↩︎