The Training Place, Inc.

November 2006

"Helping People Succeed"

This current newsletter presents recent brain research advances and highlights implications for educators and educational research. The special topic for this newsletter is brain plasticity. This newsletter (online version) appears at: . The newsletter index appears at: The newsletter index appears at:




This newsletter presents recent educational and neuroscience research advances to highlight implications for educators and educational research. The special topics for this newsletter are BRAIN PLASTICITY. This newsletter describes the research that explores how brain plasticity influences learning, memory and performance. Recent advances in the neuroscience are revealing the fascinating complexities that influence how each of use our brains to learn.


Brain Plasticity "is the changing of neurons, the organization of their networks, and their function via new experiences. This idea was first proposed in 1890 by William James in The Principles of Psychology, though the idea was largely neglected for the next fifty years.[1] The first person to use the term neural plasticity appears to have been the Polish neuroscientist Jerzy Konorski.[2] The brain consists of nerve cells (or "neurons") and glial cells which are interconnected, and learning may happen through change in the strength of the connections, by adding or removing connections, or by adding new cells. "Plasticity" relates to learning by adding or removing connections, or adding cells." -- Wikipedia. More information at:
  • News from the Neurosciences "How would it affect educational systems if everyone truly believed that the human brain could change structurally and functionally as a result of learning and experience--for better or worse?
  • Learning 2nd Language Changes Brain Anatomy "Being bilingual produces changes in the anatomy of the brain, scientists said on Wednesday in finding that could explain why children are so much better than adults at mastering a second language."
  • A New Window To View How Experiences Rewire The Brain "Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have developed sophisticated microscopy techniques that permit them to watch how the brains of live mice are rewired as the mice learn to adapt to new experiences."


This section describes a few of the ongoing research studies using the Learning Orientation Questionnaire (LOQ). The LOQ is a 25-item online survey and is free to researchers doing university-based research projects. In the studies mentioned below, the goal has been to use this understanding of the audience (differentiated by learning orientation) to modify research design and analysis, support and evaluate learning and performance progress, or guide the design and development of the environment and learning solutions.

If you are interested in using the LOQ for university-based research purposes, read more information at:

  • Jiang, M., Parent, S, &Eastmond, D. (2004). Effectiveness of Web-based Learning Opportunities in a Competency-based Program. Western Governors University. "Four years' practice has taught us many good lessons and provided us with insights into students' thoughts and needs in competency-based online learning. In order to better support our students, we felt a strong need to examine students' progress and their performance in our available learning opportunities, as well as to increase our understanding of our students as they interact with various learning opportunities and with us."
  • Chen, C. (2003). The Development of Computerized Mathematical Learning Dispositions Scale for Elementary School Children. "The purpose of this research is to develop a Mathematical Learning Dispositions Scale for elementary school children, based on the definitions of learning dispositions, proposed by Carr &Claxton. The instrument differs from traditional highly cognitive approaches because it highlights the dominant influence of emotions and intentions. It includes both A Scale and B Scale, A Scale is mainly concerned with the Semantic Differential, whereas B Scale with the Likert-type Scale.” The internal consistency reliabilities of the two scales are between 0.708 and 0.888. In the research, we ask students to choose pictures to portray their roles in Mathematics for some open questions of self-assessment, and make initial discussions according to students with different learning” orientations.
  • Leka, S. &Houdmont, J. (2004). Comparing e-Learning and Face-to-Face alternative forms of a Masters Degree Programme Institute of Work, Health &Organisations, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom. This “study is proposed to answer the research questions that can be related through a comparison of learning outcomes in students attending a traditionally presented (and established) postgraduate course in occupational health psychology with those that will attend a new e-Learning version. The research will identify learning points for the design, development and use of e-Learning in this area of knowledge. The key research questions are thus: [1] Can e-Learning technology be used to support education-at-a-distance in occupational health psychology producing at least a similar level of educational outcome? [2] Can a community of practice with comparable learning outcomes to those of the self-managed learning groups among face-to-face students be developed among e-Learning students?
  • Martinez, M. (2004). Exploring Individual Differences in Learning. he increasing use of computer technology accentuates a need to consider key psychological sources as a basis for understanding and supporting individual differences in how people learn, use knowledge; communicate; and solve problems. This study examined the psychological sources that impact individual differences in learning. Four groups of user types, with differing levels of enthusiasm and expertise, were used to examine the audience's differences in learning dispositions and ability. The user types are described as IT Professionals, General Users, Knowledge Workers, and Developers. Study results described significant predictors and showed significant correlations between the Learning Orientation Questionnaire and expertise, autonomy, satisfaction, and enthusiasm. Study results help in understanding how individual differences influence how user types may learn and need or want to use resources differently. Additionally, study results help in the development of a persona-centric framework that provides guidelines and measurements to better manage and support the increasingly sophisticated learning requirements. Additional studies are available at this URL: Additional publications are available at this URL: Martinez, M. (2004). Adaptive Learning: Research Foundations and Practical Applications. In Stein, S., and Farmer, S., S. (eds.), Connotative Learning. Washington D.C.: IACET. More information?


The purpose of this section is to review some of the diverse resources proving information about brain plasticity. This section promotes the importance of understanding the combined emotional, social, conative and cognitive influences on learning, memory and performance and brain plasticity.



The next newsletter will highlight intentional learning. In their seminal work on intentional learning, Bereiter and Scardamalia (1989) use the term intentional learning to refer to using strategic thinking "processes that have learning as a goal rather than an incidental outcome" (p. 363). They describe successful intentional learning as the expenditure of effort in pursuit of personal cognitive goals, over and above the requirements of tasks when the tasks could be accomplished by far less expenditure of effort. They suggest intentional learning results from persistent constructive problem solving towards innovation and goal attainment. Follow this research at: and

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******** Copyright (c) 2010 Margaret Martinez (All rights reserved)

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