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Neuroscience in training

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When school is a few (dozen) years behind us, it is easy to forget the feelings that education can generate. Feelings that instinctively come again to the fore if we have to learn something new.

One way of avoiding falling into the trap of ‘school for grown-ups’ is to harness the power of cognitive and affective neuroscience. By better understanding the human brain, you can offer your learners something different. Take advantage of our research and discover how to teach while respecting the different ways our brains function.

By way of an introduction, it is important to stress that each individual has their own personality and, above all, their own history. Adults learn like they did when they were children. Depending on whether your learners were top or bottom of the class at school, you need to adapt your training accordingly. Read on to discover some keys to neuroeducation that may help you.

We are all different, we just have a few similar stimuli.

As you know, a training course can be broken down into two stages: the start, and completion. The motivation to do either is key for your learners and for you.

In order to maximise the motivation to start a training course, remember this: we are motivated to start a project if we have enough energy and if the estimated gain is 2.7 times higher than the risk of not doing the training. It is hard to gauge this gain in day-to-day life, but the potential benefits should largely outweigh the effort required.

There are several ways you can achieve this:

  • Maximise the value of your teaching: avoid stating the obvious and don’t offer a ‘beginners’ course to ‘experts’. Limit your marketing spiel;
  • Offer a powerful engagement sequence with a good ‘hook’, clear benefits, an attractive summary, etc.

When motivated, human beings like to follow things through to the end, so take advantage of this fact.

In order to maximise the motivation to complete a course, consider some kind of reward system: exercises, active sequences and areas where learners have to resolve problems using their knowledge. Encourage your learners by congratulating them and adapt yourself to their pace and level.

During your training, use the following tips to keep your learners on track:

  • Indicate clearly the structure of the course and the next steps;
  • Emotions can be a vector for a lot of learning. There is a reason why TEDTalks and Virtual Reality work so well for teaching;
  • Be coherent in your teaching, provide meaning to encourage engagement;
  • Offer a warm, friendly environment to reassure your learners;
  • Add little ego-boosting rewards (likes, badges, etc.).
Use 2 effects to get your messages across:
The primacy effect: the first things learned are better retained that what comes after
The recency effect: information is better assimilated when it is presented then repeated immediately after.

It goes without saying that these are general tips and will not apply to 100% of the population. However, you should find some that work in your classes.

The term ‘neuroatypical’ covers specific characteristics (not illnesses). It includes the ‘dys’ conditions, the autism spectrum, ADHD, high intellectual potential (HIP), high emotional potential (HEP), etc. It is therefore essential to demonstrate kindness and respect in your training sessions.

As you will no doubt remember from school, you can’t treat everyone the same in the hope that their differences will simply disappear.

As a trainer, think carefully about your lesson plan

Several scientific studies have shown that explicit teaching is the most effective solution for teaching something. This is particularly true when applied in a fluid, seamless manner. Consider using the SPRI method, for example:

  1. Situation at the outset;
  2. Problem that appears;
  3. Resolution of the problem, presented in a general manner;
  4. Information explaining the solution to the problem.

By using this method, you make the training clear and enjoyable. It also provides you with a guide for educational scripting. So much for the content.

Let us turn now to the format. When you are designing your training materials, beware of anything superfluous, keep only what is essential and what the learner needs to remember. Consider how the eyes travel (in an article like this one, for example, the eyes form an ‘F’) and only highlight key information.

Finally, include regular summary sheets in your materials to make the most of the recency effect.

The world of neuroeducation is vast and this article has only scratched the surface of it. If it interests you, dig deeper and discover new ways of designing your courses and enriching the experience for both you and your learners!

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