What Can Teachers Learn From Students' Brainwaves?

EdSurge Podcast

What Can Teachers Learn From Students' Brainwaves?

By Jeffrey R. Young     May 4, 2021

What Can Teachers Learn From Students' Brainwaves?

This article is part of the guide The EdSurge Podcast.

It’s a bit of a mystery what goes on inside the brain when students learn. But thanks to relatively new breakthroughs in portable EEG devices, which can measure the brain’s electrical activity in what are known as brainwaves, researchers are able to run experiments in classrooms as never before.

Ido Davidesco, an assistant professor of learning sciences at the University of Connecticut, says such research will yield insights that can help teachers do their jobs better. One area he’s exploring involves trying to better understand what teaching practices best hold students’ attention. “This question became even more timely and relevant [during the pandemic] because students and teachers find it really hard to concentrate in both face-to-face and virtual environments, especially virtual environments,” he argues.

He admits, though, that the technology must be used carefully. For instance, he is against the use of EEG devices as part of everyday teaching (instead of just for research), as some edtech companies have encouraged. “Neuroscience data can be very easily misinterpreted or misused,” he says, and there are ethical concerns as well.

The research is part of a growing field known as Mind, Brain and Education, or MBE. One longtime teacher who advocates for more research in the area is Kristin Simmers, who is about to start a Ph.D. program working with Davidesco at University of Connecticut.

For Simmers, her interest in education is intensely personal. She has a younger brother who was diagnosed with a specific learning difference, and she originally took an education course as an elective during her undergraduate studies to learn more about what might help him.

That turned into a career in education, and some 16 years in the classroom.

For this week’s EdSurge Podcast, we connected for a joint interview with Davidesco and Simmers, to dive into what happens when you mix the studies of Mind, Brain and Education.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play Music, or wherever you listen to podcasts, or use the player on this page.

Next Up

The EdSurge Podcast

A Popular Study Found That Taking Notes By Hand Is Better Than By Laptop. But Is It?
A Popular Study Found That Taking Notes By Hand Is Better Than By Laptop. But Is It?
EdSurge Podcast

A Popular Study Found That Taking Notes By Hand Is Better Than By Laptop. But Is It?

By Jeffrey R. Young
Apr 27
EdSurge Podcast

A Popular Study Found That Taking Notes By Hand Is Better Than By Laptop. But Is It?

How a Professor of Hip-Hop Is Breaking Boundaries With First Peer-Reviewed Rap Album
How a Professor of Hip-Hop Is Breaking Boundaries With First Peer-Reviewed Rap Album
EdSurge Podcast

How a Professor of Hip-Hop Is Breaking Boundaries With First Peer-Reviewed Rap Album

By Jeffrey R. Young
Apr 21
EdSurge Podcast

How a Professor of Hip-Hop Is Breaking Boundaries With First Peer-Reviewed Rap Album

What the Odd History of ‘Pulling Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps’ Says About Education Equity
What the Odd History of ‘Pulling Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps’ Says About Education Equity
EdSurge Podcast

What the Odd History of ‘Pulling Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps’ Says About Education Equity

By Jeffrey R. Young
Apr 13
EdSurge Podcast

What the Odd History of ‘Pulling Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps’ Says About Education Equity

More from EdSurge

Get our email newsletterSign me up
Keep up to date with our email newsletterSign me up