Monday, November 01, 2010

Engaged! - Why Many Learn Well with One-on-One Learning

Some people really thrive with one-on-one learning. It makes a difference. If they're in a class, no matter what class, or listening to a recorded lecture, or  doing an interactive computer-based learning program, it's not as engaging as learning in a one-on-one situation. The funny thing is, even some introverts thrive with one-on-one learning and much prefer learning from 1 live person in front of them than a book or a computer program. This study was looking and the different brain effects of a live vs. recorded experience with another person, and scientists were somewhat surprised about how much of a difference it made.

One-on-one live interactions stimulate many areas of the brain - including reward centers that increase general alertness and attentiveness. In the bottom right, see how much activation is in the anterior cingulate - that orange blog connecting both hemispheres. That's just the spot (see below) that kids with ADHD had trouble activating - and there is a suggestion that individuals with ADHD are more reward-sensitive for particular tasks.

When we see students with severe weaknesses in working memory, often we find that optimizing their reward systems may be essential to getting the most out of their education. Rewards are not gold stars or money (although it may be money) - they may also be social or experiential - like emphasizing humor or novelty.

This research may not come as a surprise to some homeschooling parents - because they have seen their child dissipate into a distracted, inattentive, and unengaged student once they walk into the school corridors, but know they will be revived working one-on-one with a tutor they really like or even with mom or dad at the kitchen table.

Some of the key to the role of the anterior cingulate is that this brain region is important for mood, emotions, and personal or episodic memory. Among our dyslexic students, we often see a very strong preference for personal learning - that's why many may later chose to enter the caring professions, business, or jobs that involve fieldwork.

1 comment:

  1. A very interesting study, but what caught my attention was the discussion about joint attention and autism. But like other things I have read, these authors seem to treat "joint attention" as if it's a heavily vision-based thing. I am puzzled why, given that we already know that so many autistic individuals have difficulty processing visual and auditory (and maybe other?) inputs, the focus is on the kinds of joint attention that only a fully sighted and hearing person could develop. Some deaf and bind children surely have some kind of "joint attention," so shouldn't there be a way to better distill out what "joint attention" REALLY is? And to what extent do our "autistic" children struggle because they are, in essence, partially blind and deaf, and yet everyone persists in developing expectations for them as though they weren't?