There are some commonly held misconceptions in the general public about how the brain works and how it affects how we learn – these are often called “neuromyths.” We know that the general public can fall prey to these much of the time, but what about our educators? And if teachers believe in these neuromyths, what does it mean for how they teach, or how schools allocate their resources? And can we protect against falling for these neuromyths by better training?
Join me as I talk with Kelly Macdonald – doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at the University of Houston, and Asst Professor Dr Lauren McGrath at the University of Denver – both in the USA – as we talk about their paper exploring belief in neuromyths by educators and the general public, and how we can change things.
Here is the link to the full paper we talk about in this week’s show:
Here is the abstract for some context:
Neuromyths are misconceptions about brain research and its application to education and learning. Previous research has shown that these myths may be quite pervasive among educators, but less is known about how these rates compare to the general public or to individuals who have more exposure to neuroscience. This study is the first to use a large sample from the United States to compare the prevalence and predictors of neuromyths among educators, the general public, and individuals with high neuroscience exposure. Neuromyth survey responses and demographics were gathered via an online survey hosted at TestMyBrain.org. We compared performance among the three groups of interest: educators (N = 598), high neuroscience exposure (N = 234), and the general public (N = 3,045) and analyzed predictors of individual differences in neuromyths performance. In an exploratory factor analysis, we found that a core group of 7 “classic” neuromyths factored together (items related to learning styles, dyslexia, the Mozart effect, the impact of sugar on attention, right-brain/left-brain learners, and using 10% of the brain). The general public endorsed the greatest number of neuromyths (M = 68%), with significantly fewer endorsed by educators (M = 56%), and still fewer endorsed by the high neuroscience exposure group (M = 46%). The two most commonly endorsed neuromyths across all groups were related to learning styles and dyslexia. More accurate performance on neuromyths was predicted by age (being younger), education (having a graduate degree), exposure to neuroscience courses, and exposure to peer-reviewed science. These findings suggest that training in education and neuroscience can help reduce but does not eliminate belief in neuromyths. We discuss the possible underlying roots of the most prevalent neuromyths and implications for classroom practice. These empirical results can be useful for developing comprehensive training modules for educators that target general misconceptions about the brain and learning.
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