The Science of Learning

Jenning Prevatte, M. Ed.

I am not a neuroscientist, but as an educational professional and social scientist, I value the understanding of human development along with brain research. From my perspective, it is critical to teaching and learning success to understand how humans develop from infancy through life and apply that knowledge when teaching. This foundational knowledge makes great teachers at all levels of education.

Ever since I was young, I’ve been interested in understanding the why of human behavior. This curiosity led me on a beautiful journey where I earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Northern Arizona University, then my elementary education teacher licensure at Arizona State University. During the first few years of teaching, I recognized how important my background in psychology was. I used my knowledge to support my teaching decisions every day. My thirst for knowledge led me back to school to earn my Master’s in Special Education, emphasizing Early Childhood Education, again at Arizona State University.

During my Master’s work, I learned about brain research and sensory development, deepening my understanding of child development through multiple lenses. Connections were formed in my brain, and I applied them in my teaching daily. It was a fantastic time in my professional learning.

As educators, why is it important to understand
the science of learning?

Jumping ahead almost 20 years later, I still lean on the importance of understanding the science of learning in my teaching practice. I often find that many educators don’t truly understand brain research. It isn’t a natural addition to some educational pathways.

As educators, why is it important to understand the science of learning?

Ultimately, the science of learning is essential because it helps us understand how people learn and how we can improve the educational process. Having this foundational knowledge that is evidence-based decreases generalizations and biases. Understanding how the brain works and how we retain information can create more effective teaching methods and improve educational outcomes. Additionally, research in the science of learning can help us identify and address learning difficulties and disabilities, ultimately leading to more equitable and inclusive education for all. Plus, understanding human development helps educators create learning environments that are developmentally appropriate, socially-emotionally supportive, and scaffold on prior knowledge and skills that are relevant to the learner, not just what the curriculum says we should teach.

Something I try to instill in my college students is that, as educators, they decide how to teach. Knowing human development, the science of learning, and the understanding of the content they teach are the components of the art and science of teaching. This combination of both the theoretical and practical aspects of instruction involves the application of scientific principles to the art of teaching to enhance the learning experience for all learners. As I’ve stated, teaching today is about more than just teaching the curriculum. It includes understanding a learner’s developmental progress, having an asset-based perspective, designing effective lesson plans that are equity-minded, and utilizing effective teaching strategies that engage all learners and promote learning.

Always remember!
You are talented! You are brilliant!
You connect, engage, and inspire the future!