STORIES: Neuro-Education Initiative
Researchers: Mariale Hardiman, Susan Magsamen

Imagine being able to use evidence-based knowledge about how the brain works to inform other fields of study outside of medicine. What if you could use this knowledge to inform teaching and parenting practices. What if, by explaining how we learn to children and adults, we could all become more active learners? The implications for higher achievements individually and as a society are staggering. This is precisely the goal of the Neuro-Education Initiative.

Located in the School of Education, the Neuro-Education Initiative (NEI) bridges the gap between the brain sciences and education by bringing together an interdisciplinary group of researchers, educators, and other key stakeholders to explore the intersection, knowledge, and current application of brain research in education, and to identify and support potential areas of translational research. The NEI has established a strong collaborative network across the University, planned and conducted regional and national conferences and summits, explored research opportunities, developed and implemented academic programs and developed a communications outreach framework to effectively reach educators, parents and researchers.

In partnership with the Dana Foundation, NEI hosted its inaugural national summit in May 2009 to explore the intersection of neurological and cognitive sciences, the arts and learning. The Learning, Arts and the Brain Summit included over 300 educators, scientists, school administrators, parent representatives and policy-makers who shared an interest in advancing the science of learning through the lens of the arts.
Future annual summits will address topics that have significant interest for educators, parents and policy makers and are currently under study by researchers across multiple domains in the brain sciences. In May 2010, the NEI will host its second summit called Attention and Engagement in Learning.

In July 2009, the NEI launched its first academic program: The Mind, Brain and Teaching Certificate. As one of the first academic programs for educators in the country focused on the intersection of the brain sciences and education, the certificate has attracted a strong regional and national audience.

Communications and outreach is an integral aspect of the success of the NEI. Because it is critical to share useful information to a wide range of individuals, carefully framing the content and method of communication is vital. NEI is developing a comprehensive communications and outreach strategy to guide its contact and messaging with a diverse audience. Recently NEI affiliated with New Horizons for Learning website.

Because of the great interest in the emerging field of neuroeducation, over the last year, the NEI has had significant academic and popular media coverage including Education Week, WYPR, WEAA, The Washington Post, Dana Foundation website and newsletters, and The Baltimore Sun.

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