Towards a Biological Framework for Learning and Teaching?

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In many modern societies teaching plays a prominent role in education, often in an institutionalised setting where a teacher interacts with a large number of students. For the modern teacher, however, there are a number of differing philosophies regarding teaching and learning, with most of these philosophies originating in the social sciences. There is little in the way of effective framework that allows the modern teacher to compare such philosophies and their effectiveness in teaching practice. Although many of the models of instructional design used in teaching are based largely in cultural experience, some models have been revisited and augmented on the basis of phenomenological investigations in cognitive psychology. Recent insights from modern integrative biology have increased the understanding of learning and memory, and human cultural accumulation on a number of levels, from the coarse-grained phenomenological level to a more fine-grained chemical level. Combination of insights from fields such as psychology and sociology with those from integrative biology may offer potentially valuable contributions to the development of a framework for comparing educational philosophies.


Keywords: Teaching, Learning, Models Of Instructional Design, Psychology, Integrative Biology, Neuroscience
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: , , , , , , , Towards a Biological Framework for Learning and Teaching


Dr. Geoff Woolcott

Researcher, School of Education, University of New South Wales
Sydney, NSW, Australia

My initial approach to this topic was through my experiences at UNSW, particularly my recent experiences in the School of education. I have had a range of teaching and learning experiences, from primary through to tertiary teaching and research, and I decided that this, combined with my background as research scientist, equipped me to explore the potential parallels between studies in the social and behavioural sciences and studies in the biological sciences, particularly in the areas such as neuroscience and genetics. In recent years I have pursued this goal, in conjunction with Prof John Sweller and Dr Slava Kalyuga at UNSW.

Ref: L09P1533