Use of Brain Function Concepts by Social Studies Teachers
Frank, Kent Vincent
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The problem. The basic problem examined in the study was the degree to which selected brain-function concepts had been applied to teaching techniques by Des Moines area secondary social studies teachers who responded to an opinionnaire. These were three primary questions: (1) How aware were respondent teachers of the selected concepts? (2) Did the respondent teachers believe the concepts were applicable to social studies teaching techniques? and (3) To what extent had teaching techniques compatible with these concepts been implemented by respondent teachers? Procedure. The study was conducted as a non-experimental research project. The opinionnaire was distributed to all secondary social studies teachers in the Des Moines, West Des Moines and Urbandale, Iowa, public schools. Nine brain function concepts were selected for the survey after an extensive review of relevant literature and an assumption of appropriateness to social studies teaching techniques. The concepts were: The Triune Brain, Functional Organization, Brain Growth Spurts, Neuro-chemical Processes, Functional Integration, The Split-Brain, Learning Style Preferences, Visual Thinking and the Proster Model, The opinionnaire asked teachers to respond to questions on a four-part scale which indicated their current state of awareness, acceptance and application of the selected concepts in their classrooms. An arbitrary point value was assigned to each response and the data then analyzed descriptively using several subgroup and total group comparisons. Findings and Conclusions. The findings are summarized in three statements: (1) The respondent teachers were largely unaware of the selected brain function concepts, (2) teachers who were aware of the concepts tended to believe that these concepts were applicable to social studies teaching strategies, and (3) the concepts had been implemented by few respondent teachers to a very high degree. Much work remains to be done on brain function, but the favorable response of teachers who are aware of brain function concepts indicates that the effort would be well worth while.
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