Neuromyths in education: what is fact and what is fiction for Portuguese teachers?

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Abstract

Educational neuroscience is a relatively new discipline. However, many obstacles persist in delaying the success of an interface between neuroscience and education. One such major obstacle has been the spread of neuromyths.The main aim of this study was to verify whether Portuguese teachers are susceptible to misinterpreting neuroscientific findings and believe in neuromyths that might ultimately impair their teaching - or simply waste time investing in techniques that will not aid their students.A sample of 583 Portuguese teachers from different areas of expertise participated in this study. The participants were aged between 25 and 61 years (mean=41; SD=9) and taught at Preschool to High School levels.We designed a questionnaire to assess whether teachers believed in the neuromyths. Non-myth/myth statements were presented, alongside an open-ended question concerning the links between brain and education. Together, these queries afforded a database of the teachers' knowledge concerning neuroscientific facts and neuromyths.Our results suggest that teachers fail to distinguish myths from facts, irrespective of the area taught and level of teaching. However, our findings also indicate that, although teachers have difficulties in untangling myths from facts, Portuguese teachers are interested in the workings of the brain and recognise the potential of neuroscientific information in education.Results from this study suggest that communication between neuroscientists and teachers must be improved through an open, interdisciplinary dialogue. This research raises questions that should help to develop educational neuroscience as a discipline. Namely, we highlight the need for a translation of the educational neuroscience facts into a language shared by teachers; and the need for specific training so that teachers might make adequate use of education-related neuroscientific findings in the classroom.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-453
Number of pages13
JournalEducational Research
Volume55
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013

Keywords

  • Brain
  • Educational neuroscience
  • Learning
  • Neuromyths
  • Teacher perceptions

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