Abreena Tompkins, instruction specialist at Surry Community College, has developed a brain-based online course design model based on a meta-analysis of more than 300 articles. In this study, she distilled the following elements of brain-based course design:Low-risk, nonthreatening learning environmentChallenging, real-life, authentic assessmentsRhythms, patterns, and cyclesAppropriate chunking or groupingLearning as orchestration rather than lecture or facilitationAppropriate level of noveltyAppropriately timed breaks and learning periodsPurposeful assessmentsLearning that addresses visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learnersActive processing with mental modelsThe use of universal examples, analogies, and parallel processing
Tompkins offers the following succinct definition of brain-based: “instructional strategies designed for compatibility with the brain’s propensities for seeking, processing, and organizing information.”
Tompkins’ model uses the acronym IGNITE.
Intervals: Tompkins recommends using an interval of intense focus for approximately 15 to 20 minutes followed by a two- to three-minute break. “Physiologically, your neurons are keen and alert for no more than 20 consecutive minutes. At the end of those 20 minutes, your neurons have gone from full-fledged alert to total collapse, and it takes two to three minutes for those neurons to be completely recovered and back to the total alert state. If you break longer than three minutes, you’ve redirected your attention,” Tompkins says.
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Grouping: Present information in groups of three or five. “The brain can process no more than nine items in a sequence, and it actually does this much more efficiently with three or five. Odd numbers work better than even numbers. If you’re going to give students a list of six things to do, make it one, two, three, whitespace, four, five, six. The brain responds to whitespace because the brain processes things in groups. Students will be better able to focus as they look at this group of information. You’re providing the same amount of content. It just makes it more learner-friendly,” Tompkins says.Novelty:
Via Ricard Lloria