17-T10 Neuroscience and Education: Complementary not Competing Sciences

Course coordinators:
Prof. dr. Renate de Groot, renate.degroot@ou.nl
Dr. Nienke van Atteveldt, n.m.van.atteveldt@vu.nl
Anne de Bruijn, MSc. a.g.m.de.bruijn@rug.nl

Course description:
This course introduces PhD-candidates (ICO students) to the emerging field of ‘educational neuroscience’, also referred to as ‘mind, brain, and education’. While this new field can be positioned in many different fields (e.g., cognitive neuroscience, psychology, etc) this course approaches the field as a sub-discipline of the Educational Sciences. In other words, the aim of this course on educational neuroscience is to look at how theories and methods from the (cognitive) neurosciences can be used in conjunction with theories and methods from other educational sciences to inform and improve knowledge of learning and teaching. Students in this course learn how to integrate theoretical perspectives on learning, as well as diverse methodological approaches to investigate learning. These approaches range from the highly controlled laboratory experiments typical to the neuroscience approach, to approaches that study learning in more realistic settings. Throughout the course, students are encouraged to critically reflect on the current enthusiasm for a brain-based education. What are myths, and what are the promising directions?

Course objectives:
After having completed this course, the student is able to:
  • Explain and integrate the main learning theories 
  • Explain and discuss the current state-of-the-art of empirical knowledge about development and learning, and how this knowledge is relevant to education 
  • Interpret and evaluate the main neuro-imaging (and related) methods with respect to their relevance for / use in education, learning and teaching 
  • Interpret and evaluate neuroscientific literature with respect to the caveats in educational neuroscience and the attempts being made to resolve them 
  • Set up an empirical study within the field of educational neuroscience, and write a research proposal about it in a real grant application format 
  • Review a research proposal according to criteria inspired by NWO; getting familiar with grant reviewing procedures 
  • Critically evaluate current studies and statements in educational neuroscience 
  • Write and present a paper on an educational neuroscience topic

Requirements/entry level:
The course requires a total time investment of 87 hours (i.e., 3 EC):
Meetings: 21 hrs (see course programme)
Literature: 12 hrs
Assignments: 54 hrs (see tasks)

A basic knowledge of theories and methods applied in both the neurosciences and the educational sciences is required (see literature) 

Course Programme
The course contains three full day meetings with keynotes, round table and plenary discussions and student presentations. The course is in English.

Dates and locations

16 November

Studiecentrum OU Utrecht - Room  7

14 december

Studiecentrum OU Utrecht - Room  4

1 februari 2018

Studiecentrum OU Utrecht - Room  7

Every f-2-f meeting will run from 10.00-17.00


Meeting 1: Development and learning: current state-of-the-art (November 16, 2017)
Preparation: take note of current learning theories: each student is assigned to 1 article/theory and prepares a brief oral pitch
10.00 Welcome
10.30 Learning, plasticity & memory. Speaker: Marlieke van Kesteren (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
11.30 Executive functions & Social development & role social context. Berna Güroglu (Leiden University)
12.30 Lunch break
13.30 Development of reading and math: Speakers: Milene Bonte (Maastricht University) and Bert de Smedt (University of Leuven).
14.30 Round table discussions around the question: How will/can optimal learning be established? Discussions start with the pitches prepared by the students about a specific theory. Aim: come to a unified theory.
16.30 Closing of 1st day: Presentation ‘unified theory of development’ of Sameroff Speaker: Renate de Groot (Open University)

Meeting 2: Modern techniques to study learning: what do they measure and how do we interpret the results? (December 14, 2017)

1. What neuro-imaging techniques are available and what do they measure? Each student develops bachelor/practice teaching material about one technique.
2. Prepare research question for your research proposal
10.00 Welcome
10.30 MRI + fMRI Speaker: Nienke van Atteveldt (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
11.15 EEG + MEG Speaker: Tieme Janssen (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
12.00 Assignments (teaching material MRI/fMRI/EEG/MEG) will be discussed with the experts
12.30 lunch
13.30 Eye tracking Speaker: Halszka Jarodzka (Open University)
14.15 Sensor technology Speaker: Maaike Endedijk (Twente University)
15.00 Assignments (teaching material eye tracking/sensor technology) will be discussed with the experts
15.30: Coffee break
16.00 – 17.00 Preparing for meeting 3. Start research proposal in which a neuro-technique (meeting 2) will be used to address practice-related research questions related to learning (meeting 1). Research questions (preparation assignment 2) will be discussed and instructions will be given.

Meeting 3: Myths and opportunities of Educational Neuroscience (February 1st, 2018)

- Write research proposal and send to peer reviewers and teachers (deadline: Jan 15)
- Provide feedback/reviews to 2 peers (using the marking criteria inspired by NWO)- deadline January 26
- Read all other summaries before meeting day 3 and formulate questions in case you are in the review committee of someone else’s proposal (Feb 1st).

N.B.: The committee (organizers) selects 2 proposals based on the feedback/reviews.

10.00 Myths and opportunities of neuroscience & education (using statements & interactive using Socrative). Renate de Groot & Nienke van Atteveldt
12.00 Lunch break
13.00 research proposals:
- Pitches (all students)
- 2 interview panels – mock interviews of the 2 selected research proposals.
16.00-17.00 Course evaluation.

Maximum number of participants:18 

You will pass this course and receive your certificate if you:
- Actively contribute to the meetings and assignments
- Present a pitch about a learning theory (meeting day 1)
- Develop educational material about two modern techniques useful for the field (meeting day 2)
- Write a research proposal on a topic of your choice in the field of educational neuroscience in which a new technique is incorporated to tackle an educational problem in practice. (for meeting day 3)
- Actively participate in the proposal review committee (meeting day 3) 
Feedback will be given on the tasks carried out and documents /presentations to be delivered both by the instructors and peers.


Required reading (before the course):

Due to the quickly evolving state of the field, new reading materials will be made available in September 2017.

Basic articles on educational neuroscience (read 2 of the 4):
- Ansari, D., Coch, D. & De Smedt, B. Connecting Education and Cognitive Neuroscience: Where will the journey take us? Educational Philosophy and Theory 43, 37–42 (2011).
- Carew, T.J. & Magsamen, S.H. Neuroscience and education: An ideal partnership for producing evidence-based solutions to guide 21 st century learning. Neuron 67, 685-688 (2010).
- Howard-Jones, P.A. Neuroscience and education: myths and messages. Nature Reviews Neuroscience (2014).
- Sigman, M., Peña, M., Goldin, A. & Ribeiro, S. Neuroscience and education: prime time to build the bridge. Nature Neuroscience 17, 497-502 (2014).

Required reading (during the course):
Sameroff, A. (2010). A Unified Theory of Development: A Dialectic Integration of Nature and Nurture. Child Development, 81, 6–22.

More readings will be distributed using a shared Dropbox folder.