Supporting teachers in fostering collaborative learning amongst adolescents

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Wilson, Chelsea L.
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education
Although defined through a variety of contexts backed with extensive research, adolescence is still often viewed through a negative lens, placing harsh labels and opinions on teens and their behaviors. Blakemore boldly states “Adolescence isn’t an aberration; it’s a crucial stage of our becoming individual and social human beings” (2018, p. 2). Just as important as childhood, adolescence serves as a second window of reconstruction, with rapid structural and functional modifications leading to immense behavioral alterations. At the forefront of these changes are areas of the social brain network, the prefrontal cortex, and the limibic system, resulting in a drastic shift in an adolescents ability to make effective decisions, manage multiple factors at once, regulate their emotions, and function within social contexts (Blamore, 2018; Cozolino, 2013, Dumontheil, 2016). During the period of adolescence, teens become driven by peer relationships, short-term rewards, and autonomous opportunities. By providing learning opportunities that utilize the social changes that occur with adolescence, educators can better support positive development and thriving amongst their students. Collaborative learning strategies engage adolescents in meaningful discussions and rich thinking tasks and guide them towards the creation of new knowledge (Davidson & Major, 2014). This project encompasses two resources and will provide educators with the foundations of neurological development that occurs during adolescence, as well as a comprehensive guide towards implementing collaborative learning to support such development. Through a four-part professional development session, educators will be informed of the basic neurological structures and functions, basic neural connectivity and learning functions, how the brain alters during adolescence, and how to effectively implement collaborative learning strategies as a tool to optimize the adolescent brain. Within the presentation educators are provided with visuals, analogies, activities, planning tools and further resources to support their understanding and implementation of neuroscience into education. The second resource hopes to reach educators and students; through a classroom infographic using teen-friendly language, viewers are provided with simple and key information about the adolescent brain. This poster summarizes the first three parts of the professional development session resource, and allows both educators and students to build their understanding of the adolescent brain. By aligning pedagogical practice with research this project serves to build a bridge between education and neuroscience, leading to the empowerment and thriving of adolescent students.
Adolescents , Education , Neuroscience , Collaborative learning