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Southwest Center for Mind, Brain and Education

Speaker Series

The Southwest Center for Mind, Brain and Education regularly invites distinguished speakers of varying disciplines from all over the country to expand on the MBE education offered at The University of Texas at Arlington.

We invite you to listen and dialog with these experts in the fields of cognitive and behavioral science as well as neuroscience as they explore new tools, models and ideas emerging at the intersection of education and the cognitive and neurosciences.  These speakers use the overarching principles of this new discipline, MBE, to explore how advances in their fields of neuroscience, genetics, or cognitive science can inform, and be informed by, educational practice and leadership.

2013 Speaker Series Schedule

Michael Connell

CEO, Native Brain, Inc.

April 1, 2013

"Native Numbers: A Case Study on the Use of Modern Learning Science and Technology to Empower Learners, Teachers, & Other Stakeholders"

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“Number sense” is one of the most important academic skills a child ever learns.  In fact, research has shown that a preschool child’s understanding of mathematics predicts his or her school success all the way through high school.  Unfortunately, many children in the U.S. show up in Kindergarten without number sense and fail to develop it fully in the elementary school years.  Without a solid foundation in number sense, children struggle with arithmetic - and their challenges with math tend to accumulate from there.

2012

Helen Abadzi

Senior Education Specialist
Global Partnership for Education
The World Bank

"How Little-Known Virtues of Cognitive Neuroscience Can Educate the Poor of the World More Effectively"

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Education colleges in the US focus on instruction for students of high-income countries, where parents are literate and teachers are well educated. But in the poorest countries, children often start school without having seen a book, and many traditional assumptions about learning may not work. The international donor community has invested billions in the education of the poor, and it is important to find the fastest path to results. What principles can be used from learning research to bring this about? How to overcome dysfunctional environments and bring basic skills to the kids?

Michael W. Connell

CEO, Native Brain, Inc.

"Flipped Classroom v2.0: Empowering Learners, Teachers, and Education Researchers with Modern Learning Science and Technology"

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The public dialogue around U.S. education is one of crisis and decline. Yet the opportunities for delivering high-quality learning experiences are greater than ever. In particular, there is a great deal of research on learning, motivation, and teaching available today to guide effective curriculum design and pedagogy. In addition, modern technologies like the iPad and Web enable new modes of teacher-student interaction that can support students to progress at their own pace while freeing up teachers to provide more individualized attention to each of them. Importantly, these innovations can be integrated into today’s classrooms and/or lesson plans, without the need for extensive retooling or retraining.

Joaquín Fuster

Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Science
Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior
School of Medicine
University of California at Los Angeles

“Theoretical & Conceptual Models of MBE”

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Dr. Joaquín Fuster explores with students connections between his model of memory and education.

2011

Jenny Thomson

Harvard University

"The Neuroscience of Reading and Dyslexia: Insights and possible solutions"

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This talk will discuss how neuroscience is being applied to questions of literacy, dyslexia and literacy instruction. A particular focus of the talk will be recent studies that explore how new digital technologies are changing what it means to be a successful reader and writer. The studies suggest that digital technology can both reduce the ability gap in certain academic domains, while increasing them in others. The implications of these findings for students of all abilities will be discussed.

2009

Donna Coch

Dartmouth College

“The Complexity of Reading: A mind, brain, and education perspective”

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What is involved in the amazing development of the ability to make meaning of marks on a page? Learning to read involves the development of multiple skills and neurocognitive systems as well as the coordination of these skills and systems. Three key components of reading are discussed- orthographic, phonological, and semantic knowledge - from the multiple perspectives of mind, brain, and education to illustrate the rich complexity of the process of building a brain that reads.

Mary Helen Immordino-Yang

University of Southern California

“The Neuroscience of Emotion. Our Bodies, Our Minds, Our “Selves”: The relevance of social and affective neuroscience to education”

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Recent discoveries in social and affective neuroscience reveal intriguing relationships in the brain between the physiological systems that support social interaction, those that support emotion, and those that support the feeling of the body, especially the gut.  These relationships suggest that emotion and cognition, feeling and thinking are fundamentally grounded in the body, and that creative thought emerges as a function of the interaction between the body and the mind in social and cultural context.  In this session we will discuss these ideas in relation to our fMRI and psychophysiological data on social emotions like admiration/awe and compassion, and show that even these complex moral emotions involve both the body and mind, as well as our own sense of “consciousness” and “self.”  Discussion will focus especially on how social emotions about other people’s physical and psychological situations differ in the brain, and the implications of this for educating children.

Jenny Thomson

Harvard University

“Getting the beat: Links between rhythm sensitivity and dyslexia”

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By detecting pre-school children at risk of specific learning disabilities, notably, dyslexia, practitioners also have the opportunity to intervene at an earlier stage.  However, considerable gaps remain in our understanding of how to accurately and more comprehensively identify pre-school and kindergarten children who will go on to struggle with learning to read.  In this presentation, current best practice will be reviewed and new research findings will be presented which suggest that certain music-related skills, such as early rhythm sensitivity, may be helpful in increasing our ability to predict reading progress.  Behavioral and neuroscientific data will be discussed in terms of the complementary evidence they provide, as well as their potential translation to implications for early intervention.

Theo Dawson

Developmental Testing Services (DTS)

“Educational assessment: A hierarchical view of success. Introducing developmental maieutics – a methodology for integrating research, assessment, curricula, and instruction”

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For over a century, the testing industry has been more or less isolated from research on a learning and development.  Although there are attempts to integrate educational research and assessment, the basic model consists of a testing company composed of psychometricians and content experts, working (in separate rooms) to build items that address a mandated area of knowledge, then compose these items, despite their many limitations, are the item-type of choice.  Today, NCLP requirements – designed to improve student learning – have increased the amount of high-stakes testing in the United States. Extensive research has shown that tests made of multiple choice items are good indicators of what students have committed to memory, but are poor indicators of student understanding.  Assessments need to focus on a number of basic requirements that will be explored in this talk and workshop (to follow), such as how to create an assessment that is based on rigorous research into the pathways through which students learn particular concepts over time.  I will introduce the set of methods my colleagues and I have been using to create assessments that meet assessment requirements, and explore some of the ways in which our assessment-building agenda and your research agendas may overlap.

2008

E. Juliana Paré-Blagoev

The SERP Institute

“Mind the Gap: A model for progress in neuro-education research"

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Educational research has a long history of being interdisciplinary.  Methodological and theoretical approaches from many disciplines have been adopted and adapted to help address educationally relevant questions.  Strong arguments have been made both for and against the potential value of adding neuroscience to the mix. This talk presents a strategy for identifying educational issues that can be addressed by neuroscience and applies the strategy to two examples: one where education questions can be addressed by neuroscience and a second example, where neuroscience is used to study learning, but not in a way that has direct educational relevance. The talk paves the way for a new methodology capable of connecting neuroscience and education and contributing to the knowledge base of both fields of study.

Todd Rose

Harvard University

“Illusions, Art, and Attention: Dynamic perception and its implications for learning”

 

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In order to learn, a student must first perceive. Perception is a gateway to learning, and models of perception have long served as a foundation for theories of learning and teaching. In recent years, emerging neuroscience, psychophysical, and educational research has changed the way we think about perception: Rather than a static process where the goal is to replicate reality perception is now understood to be highly dynamic, actively constructive, and usefully subjective. This has genuine educational implications! In this talk, Dr. Rose used hands-on examples, illusions, and visual art to demonstrate the nature of dynamic perception. He also discussed the implications of dynamic perception for education and educational research, with a focus on his current work exploring the relationship between dyslexia and visual abilities in astrophysics.

Michael Connell

Harvard University

“Building Bridges in Mind, Brain, and Education: Translating learning science into useable tools for educators”

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The Knowledge Design Matrix (KDM) is an example of an educational design tool that is intended to make research on the mind and brain useable by educational practitioners.  Although KDM is based on scientific research about how people learn, this approach is not prescriptive. KDM does not propose learning objectives or  favor any specific teaching methodology or educational philosophy. It derives its power instead from the principle of internal consistency: the educator must define a set of learning objectives and propose an instructional design, and the science is then used simply to help evaluate whether the proposed design is likely to support the stated learning objectives or not. As such, the KDM can be applied to virtually any content domain, and at the most basic level it requires little or no specialized training to begin using it.