The Science of Learning (FutureLearn): Week 1 Reflection

So I’ve already broken my New Years resolution of “trying not to take on too much.” 

In this post I reflect on my learning from Week 1 of the FutureLearn Course “The Science of Learning.”

Last year I completed an EdX course called “Deep Learning with Transformative Pedagogy” and even though I learnt some interesting things, the course wasn’t quite what I expected. It was very focused on teaching children (I know the word pedagogy gives it away, but I’ve seen this word used to describe adult education too). I came away wanting to learn more about cognitive science and how deep learning can be encouraged in adult education. 

When I originally looked into finding a course with a focus on learning and cognitive science, a FutureLearn course called “The Science of Learning” was the first thing I discovered. The problem was it didn’t start until January 2020. It had totally slipped my mind until a couple of weeks ago when I received the email to say the class was due to start.

Fast forward to today and I’ve completed Week 1. It’s only a short course so I don’t see why I can’t complete this alongside my other endeavours (and they are interrelated).

Week 1 Reflection

There are sections in this course that are specifically aimed at teachers. The good thing about this is that the course accommodates for teaching staff and non-teaching staff, so it points out all the sections that I can miss without actually missing anything relevant to the subject.

Week one started by introducing the topic of learning and some basic functions of the brain, as well as quashing some “Neuromyths.” Neuromyths are basically beliefs you’ll often hear about the brain and learning that are not true, partially true or incorrect. Some of the myths included the VAK theory as well as the myth that we only use 10% of our brain.

The concept of learning was also introduced as three processes; Engage, Build and Consolidate, each of which is handled by different parts of the brain. One or more of these processes may be active during learning, but together they help to create new connections in the brain and build understanding. After reading this I asked myself “how can I create learning that uses all three brain processes?” and came up with the following:

  • Engage – Provide learners with information on why they need to complete this learning and what they can expect to do afterwards. Include mixed modalities to keep the content engaging.
  • Build – The process of learning. Content should be written clearly and should be appropriately chunked. Use a range of activities to make learning memorable and fun so it’s easier to remember. 
  • Consolidate – Include information on prior learning or include refresher points. Including prior learning and constructing a link to new learning to create meaning. 
Interesting Points

A point that I found most interesting was covered in the neuromyths section. I’ve talked about VAK before, this is a theory that encouraged teachers to categorise learners into one of three learning styles; Visual, Audio or Kinesthetic. It was suggested that a learner would learn more effectively using a method associated with their style e.g. if you’re a visual learner you’ll benefit by examining at diagrams or watching videos. This theory has been disproven. The interesting point about this myth is that in 2014, 89% of educational papers implicitly or indirectly endorsed the use of learning styles! 


If you want to learn more about this course, please visit the FutureLearn website. 

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