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RESEARCH TOPIC MEMO
Date: October 20, 2009
To: Meg Van Baalen-Wood and ENGL 4010 students
From: Jessica Hollon
Subject: Brain based learning/practice in the classroom and this practice’s effects
on learners’ brains and their knowledge retention
The purpose of this memo is to begin to develop a research project on the effects of
practice within a classroom setting. This memo will explore focused research questions
and how to go about researching the answers to these questions. This memo will also
explore how this research can contribute to teachers’ knowledge of best practices within a
The Problem to be Researched
Since practice is not something that all classroom teachers give students time to do before
they are assessed or graded on a new skill, it is problematic for students. According to
recent research, “Practice builds neurological connections and thickens the insulating
myelin sheath necessary for fluency, chunking of information, brain efficiency, and deep
learning” (Hill 2006) . If adequate practice time is not given to students, they may not be
able to understand and retain information acquired from new learning as well as they
could if they were given practice time.
With the concepts of practice and brain based learning coming to the forefront of
teaching and best classroom practices, new research is being done in order to show how
the brain functions best in learning situations. Along with this new research, there are
many questions to be answered about a broad topic that can be applied in many different
areas of a learner’s life.
Development of Questions
Researchers are seeking answers to these questions about brain based learning and
practice in all levels of schooling from preschool to secondary education. In order to
focus this topic for the purpose of my research paper I will set out to answer these
1) How does practice affect the brain?
2) On average, how much practice time do teachers in the levels of third through
fifth grade at the Douglas Intermediate School give for daily practice (un-graded)
in reading and math?
3) What types of programs and curriculums are available to aid teachers in giving
this practice time to students?
4) How might this new information effect how teachers structure the students’
Memo to Meg Wood and ENGL 4010 students
October 13, 2009
In order to find answers to these questions, I will first consult recent literature and
research on brain based learning. Next, I will survey teachers at the school where I am
employed to see if they give practice time and how much time that amounts to daily. I
will also look at available curriculums and programs that have built in practice time, and
the research these programs present to justify why this aspect of their program
strengthens the curriculum.
After looking at all of these sources of information, I feel as though this research can
positively contribute to the knowledge of teachers I work with. I will be taking existing
research in the area of brain based learning as well as doing some research of my own,
and then be applying my finding to the school where I work. This could change how
teachers at my school structure their students’ day and eventually lead to students being
able to better understand and retain the information they are learning.