Fundació Jaume Bofill Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC)

Thinking about future challenges of education in Catalonia

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Paul Howard-Jones

Professor of Neuroscience and Education, University of Bristol, UK.

After completing a PhD in Medical Physics, Professor Howard-Jones was a teacher and a trainer of primary and secondary school teachers, before becoming a psychologist. This experience promoted his interest in applying understanding of cognition and neuroscience to enhance child and adult learning.

In particular in recent years, he has been conducting experiments to help find more information on how to foster creativity in the classroom through the use of new technologies.

His research combines neurocomputational modelling with functional brain imaging to further understand the relationship between reward and learning. The methods used for this modelling focus on producing educational learning games.

As a member of the UK's Royal Society working group on Neuroscience and Education, he took part in preparing a report on the implications of neuroscience in education in 2011 (link). Some of its conclusions were:

  • Learning outcomes are not solely determined by the environment. Biological factors also play an important role.
  • Neuroscience can help uncover why certain types of learning are more rewarding than others.
  • Learning new skills changes the brain and these changes revert when practice of the skill ceases. Hence "use it or lose it" is an important principle for lifelong learning.
  • Resilience to stress and adversity can be built up through education with lifelong effects into old age.
  • Digital technologies have the potential to create more learning opportunities inside and outside the classroom, and throughout life.

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Neuroscience and education: How can we play, learn and be more creative?


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