The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2000 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

BRAIN BASED LEARNING IN A POST PROFESSIONAL RESPIRATORY CARE PROGRAM: A COMPARISON OF CONVENTIONAL METHODOLOGY AND BRAIN BASED LEARNING TECHNIQUES

David Lopez, Ed.S., RRT., Loma Linda University, School of Allied Health Professions, Department of Cardiopulmonary Sciences, Loma Linda, CA

Background: Neural plasticity has been shown to increase with a rich learning environment: experiences, resources, and interactions (clinical and group). Nerve cell and dendritic branching (plasticity) is one of the ways that the brain grows a thicker cerebral cortex and consequently more neural connections. The implications are that the more connections available the easier it is to process, retrieve, and store information. By way of neural networking the brain finds and creates meaning as information is constructed and then filed in the brain for future use or present learning. The more an area of the cortex is activated the more neurons will create faster lines of communication causing an increase in memory, meaning, and learning. Recent advances in the areas of neuroscience and brain function has improved the understanding of how learning takes place for example: functional magnetic resonance imaging, PET (positron emission tomography) scans, neural physiology (neural and humoral chemical reactions), etc. have shown when and where learning occurs.

Methods: A (3) quarter unit course in Cardiopulmonary Intensive Care was given one year to post-professional respiratory care students utilizing conventional methodology: lecture, course and subject objectives followed by a post-test (final). The following year a second set of student was given the same, course and subject objectives, employing brain based learning strategies and the same post-test. These learning strategies included, case studies, group discussions, article reviews, patient rounds, some lecture, internet based assignments, student directed learning, and learning issues. Course evaluations were completed by both groups that reflected both quantitative and qualitative measures that reflected the course content.

Results: The post-test scores indicated that there was no significant difference between the conventional methodology group and those in the brain based learning group. Outcomes in terms of total scores and final grades for both groups were essentially the same. Qualitative results (course evaluation comments) showed an increased student satisfaction in the brain based learning group when compared to the conventional methodology group. Complete statistics on request.

Conclusions: Brain based learning techniques may be used as an alternative way of enhancing and improving respiratory care education. The concepts of integration, critical thinking and neurological networking can be reinforced utilizing brain based learning.

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