Bridging Education and Neuroscience

Educational neuroscience (EN) is a transdisciplinary convergence of neurosciences, education, and psychology that has gained international momentum. Its purpose is to advance the application of neurosciences in Preschool-12 education as a way to design instructional environments and practices that more closely align with human development science. Despite the ascension of scholarly discourse proposing the integration of neuroscience knowledge with education practices, a shared conceptual framework remains elusive for the emergent discipline, and the translation of EN into education practices is unexamined. A constructivist grounded theory study investigated the emerging conceptualization of the social-emotional dimensions of EN practices and the implications for creating a positive classroom climate. The data analyses of 54 student, teacher, and administrator interviews from four US classrooms applying EN knowledge generated a conceptual model that revealed how EN practices unfolded in the classroom to co-create a positive classroom climate. Data indicated that a humanistic organizational structure facilitated the EN practice implementation, and the teacher’s regulatory state was central to the application process. Five themes emerged that characterized EN practices: teaching neuroanatomy, reflecting on emotions, self-regulating strategies, adapting classroom boundaries, and honoring the whole student. Interactions resulting from these practices contributed to students’ resiliency, as observed by reduced discipline referrals, readiness to learn, empowered decision-making, greater empathy, and enhanced social connectedness. Results contribute to existing research on climate and social-emotional learning. The study’s findings also inform translational EN inquiry and provide a conceptual model to guide educators who seek to co-create positive classroom climates using transdisciplinary EN practices.

Educational Neuroscience, Transdisciplinary, Climate, Social-Emotional Learning

Pedagogy and Curriculum

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

  • Sheila Dennis
    • Senior Lecturer, School of Social Work, Indiana University, United States IN , United States
    • Sheila Dennis is a Senior Lecturer at Indiana University School of Social Work where she leads the Master of Social Work Schools Practice Area through curriculum development, scholarship, and teaching. Possessing a Bachelor of Science in Social Work, Master of Social Work, and Ph.D. in Social Work, Sheila has invested over 20 years in enriching social work practice and education and has taught undergraduate and graduate social work courses at Anderson University, Royal Holloway of University of London, and Indiana University School of Social Work. Sheila's research agenda includes investigating the social neuroscience of learning and trauma responsive practices in education settings. Through community engagement and collaboration, Sheila leads advocacy efforts to expand trauma-informed and culturally responsive behavioral health services in school settings.