Neuromyths, Knowledge About The Brain, and Evidence-Based Practices: From Data To Action

Concurrent Session 1
Streamed Session Research

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Brief Abstract

Research reveals a prevalence of believing neuromyths among educators worldwide. This session highlights findings from a 2021-study investigating awareness of neuromyths, general knowledge about the brain, and evidence-based practices within higher education among instructors, instructional designers, and administrators. Come test your knowledge and find out what factors can increase awareness.



Dr. Abby McGuire serves as the Director of Research at the Online Learning Consortium where she supports the OLC’s research efforts and advances the reach and impact of the OLC’s Research Center. Abby collaborates with scholars, practitioners, OLC team members, and external partners to design and implement initiatives and publish research that advances online, blended, and digital teaching and learning. Abby loves creating and sharing ideas to deepen understanding and shift perspectives about teaching and learning. She is a bold, creative thinker and educational leader with professional writing, editing, and consulting expertise, and she is a higher education professional with more than a decade of experience in administrative and faculty roles. Abby holds a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and a Master of Arts in English Composition and Communication from Central Michigan University.
Dr. Kristen Betts is a Clinical Professor in the School of Education at Drexel University. Dr. Betts has over 20 years of experience in higher education and serving in key leadership positions within private, public, and for-profit institutions. Dr. Betts teaches in the Mind, Brain & Learning certificate program, the Master’s program in Higher Education Leadership, the Master’s program in Creativity & Innovation, and the Doctoral program in Educational Leadership & Administration. She is also the founding Director of the Education, Learning and Brain Sciences (E-LaBS) Research Collaborative. Additionally, she serves as an Advisory Board Member for the Freddie Reisman Center for Translational Research in Creativity & Motivation. Dr. Betts’ expertise is in online and blended education, curriculum and instructional design, and evaluation. Her research focus is on Mind, Brain, and Education Science, creativity, technology-enhanced learning, Online Human Touch, and professional development. Dr. Betts is a Fulbright Specialist, Middle States Commission on Higher Education peer evaluator, and an instructor with the Online Learning Consortium certificate programs. Dr. Betts is a grant reviewer for the Hong Kong Grants Council and has been a reviewer for 14 journals and publishing companies. Dr. Betts has also been a keynote and invited speaker at conferences and government-supported events in Sweden, South Korea, South Africa, Canada, and across the United States.
Dr. Nicole Weber is an Assistant Professor in the Educational Foundations Department at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where she also coordinates the Instructional Design and Learning Technology (IDLT) master’s degree program. Prior to her current position, she served as the Associate Vice President (AVP) of Learning with the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), working closely with staff and global partners to advance professional learning opportunities, continuous improvement efforts, and research in support of quality digital, blended, and online learning. Before joining OLC, she was the Director of Learning Technology at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where she led online and blended faculty development efforts, technology training for the digital learning ecosystem, and emerging technology exploration and evaluation, collaborating across the institution to support student learning and success. With a depth of experience leading global, national, and campus initiatives that support continuous improvement of digital, blended, and online learning, Dr. Weber has presented widely at conferences in the field, as well as published various blogs, reports, playbooks, and articles sharing her work. Dr. Weber holds a B.A. in English from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, a M.S. in Cultural Foundations of Education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and a Ph.D. in Urban Education specializing in Social Foundations of Education with an emphasis on designing engaging digital learning environments. Her research interests focus on the impact of technology on the learning environment and research-driven practices for effective digital, blended, and online learning, support, and leadership.

Extended Abstract

Prior research has indicated a relationship between an instructor’s beliefs and her/his instructional practices in general (Knapp, 2013, Stein & Wang, 1988; Youyan, Tan, Liau, Lau, & Chua, 2013). Therefore, it is important to understand the pedagogical beliefs of higher education instructors, instructional designers, and professional development administrators and their awareness of neuromyths, general information about the brain, and evidence-based practices that build upon the literature and advancements in the learning sciences. 

Neuromyths are false beliefs, which are often associated with education and learning, that stem from misconceptions or misunderstandings about brain function. Research on neuromyths dates back to 2002 with an international report published by the Organization of Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD). Over the last 20 years, there has been increasing research worldwide on the awareness of neuromyths in education and general information about the brain. The majority of research in this area has focused on K-12 education, but belief in neuromyths has also been found within segments of educators in higher education, including faculty, administrators, and instructional designers (Betts et al., 2019; Gleichgerrcht et al., 2015).

The purpose of this international survey study was to examine and compare awareness of neuromyths, general knowledge about the brain, and evidence-based practices in higher education among instructors, instructional designers, and professional development administrators in two- and four-year institutions of higher education (IHE) using data collected from the OLC 2018 study and this 2021 study. This study sought to learn more about the types of professional development attended by instructors, instructional designers, and professional development administrators during the pandemic and the relationship between using evidence-based practices with instructional design and teaching. Lastly, the study sought to examine the interest levels of instructors, instructional designers, and professional development administrators in scientific knowledge about the brain and how they perceive the higher education landscape post-pandemic.

This interactive session will share data and findings from the 2021 OLC international study and highlight neuromyths found within higher education that are also prevalent in K-12 education. Additionally, data and findings will highlight  awareness of evidence-based research from the neurosciences, cognitive sciences, and learning sciences. Panelists will discuss predictors of neuromyths and discuss the level of interest in learning more about the brain across instructors, instructional designers, and professional development administrators. Mind, Brain, and Learning Sciences strategies and resources will be shared that can be applied across disciplines and educational formats to support student engagement and transfer of learning across real-world contexts.