Contributions of Neuroscience Knowledge to Teachers and Their Practice

Janet M. Dubinsky, S. Selcen Guzey, Marc S. Schwartz, Gillian Roehrig, Carrie MacNabb, Astrid Schmied, Vicki Hinesley, Mary Hoelscher, Michael Michlin, Lee Schmitt, Charlene Ellingson, Zhengsi Chang, Janice L. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


While neuroscience has elucidated the mechanisms underpinning learning and memory, accurate dissemination of this knowledge to teachers and educators has been limited. This review focuses on teacher professional development in neuroscience that harnessed the power of active-learning strategies and best educational practices resulting in increased teacher and student understanding of cognition and brain function. For teachers, the experience of learning a novel subject in an active manner enabled them to subsequently teach using similar strategies. Most important, participants viewed neuroscience as a frame for understanding why active-learning pedagogies work to engage and motivate students. Teachers themselves made connections applying neuroscience concepts to understand why learner-centered pedagogies are effective in promoting higher order thinking and deep learning in their students. Teachers planned and embraced pedagogies involving modeling, experimentation, discussion, analysis, and synthesis, increasing classroom cognitive engagement. Comprehending that everyone is in charge of changing their own brains is a tremendously powerful idea that may motivate science and non-science teachers to provide students opportunities to actively engage with content. Neuroscience courses for preservice and in-service teachers, provided as collaborations between scientists and teacher educators, can result in improved science education, pedagogy, and understanding of neuroscience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)394-407
Number of pages14
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank the teacher participants from all BrainUs, especially those who consented to the retrospective interviews. For all the programs, data were obtained from participants who formally consented to share data obtained from performance, survey, interview, and/or classroom observations. Without these consents, we could not have tracked the impact of the BrainU programs. Gratitude is extended to other collaborators, graduate students, and staff members contributing to the BrainU programs. The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work has been supported by NIH SEPA R25 RR17315, R25 OD011131, NIH SEDAPA R25 DA023955, NIH Neuroscience Blueprint R25 OD025999-03S1, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Precollege Education Award 72500-522006, the Steffen Palko Endowment for the SW Center for Mind, Brain and Education at the University of Texas at Arlington, the University of Minnesota Medical School and Academic Health Center, MN Department of Higher Education Eisenhower Professional Development Grant, and the Carter Center.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • conceptual change
  • inquiry-based pedagogy
  • mind brain and education
  • mindset
  • neurobiology of learning and memory
  • neuroeducation

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