Kagan's Free Articles
Willis, J. Cooperative Learning is a Brain Turn-On. San Clemente, CA: Kagan Publishing. Kagan Online Magazine,Fall/Winter 2009. www.KaganOnline.com
I found a fascinating article on the Kagan website called "Cooperative Learning is a Brain Turn-On." We have been learning a lot in EDIS 5480 about why social interaction is invaluable to language acquisition. This article addressed why that is the case. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter involved in memory storage and executive functions. It is also linked to pleasure and rewards. People are more likely to learn and remember when what they are doing is linked to a positive, rewarding sensation of dopamine release. Social interactions are rewarding, motivating, and pleasurable and cause dopamine to be released. Therefore, more dopamine is available to help the brain store memories. Ta da!
Another reason that social interaction increases language acquisition is because using productive speech and doing constructive activities embeds the information in multiple parts of the brain including the auditory and visual memory areas. It is more beneficial for students to be constructing meaning by actively discussing and talking about it: "students experienced a greater level of understanding of concepts and ideas when they talked, explained, and argued about them with their group, instead of just passively listening to a lecture or reading a text."
I love this brain stuff! I want to go back and re-read this article. I found it fascinating and it totally relates to connectionism and what we have been talking about in class.