I recently had the pleasure of speaking with a colleague about discovery learning – specifically, the effectiveness of learning during participation in one of Paradigm Learning’s Discovery Maps programs.
Dr. Scott DeRon is a cardiologist with the Heart Group and is working with us on the use of discovery learning in health education. He recently came across a Newsweek magazine article entitled “Eureka! How the Brain Has ‘Aha’ Moments” and wrote the following in an email to me:
I am intrigued by the Discovery Map methodology and have been looking into plausible explanations for its success. Very recent research indicates a change in brain waves immediately before sudden insight, known as the “Eureka moment.”
In the late 1960s, Roger Sperry performed pioneering research into the right and left sides of the brain, leading to the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1981. The left brain is analytical, verbal, logical and linear. The right brain is nonverbal, spatial, intuitive, nonlinear and creative. It likes complexity, ambiguity and paradox.
In other words, our left brains balance our checkbooks and our right brains like, and sometimes paint, pictures.
Eureka moments seem to occur when we turn off our left brains and allow our right brains to dominate.
This brief background offers a plausible explanation about why Discovery Maps work. The spatially arranged vibrant graphics engage the right brain, and this allows endogenous creativity for problem solving to rise to the surface over the ever-logical left brain. Once the right brain offers a solution, the left brain puts it into action in a logical, linear sequence. The Discovery Map activates right-brain activity; the Discovery Map discussion cards ask the left brain to put the plan into action.
Obviously, this is pure conjecture, but it makes logical sense to my left brain…and it offers an intellectually appealing explanation for those who are considering the use of the discovery learning methodology.
I think that Scott’s observations are quite interesting and on target with our experience. Certainly, research over the years has demonstrated that people learn best when they are actively involved in the learning process. Discovery learning has also proven to appeal to many different types of learners and to accelerate knowledge and skill acquisition as well as long-term retention.
If you find this blog and the Newsweek article interesting, you may also want to check out Paradigm Learning’s white paper entitled “Harnessing ‘Eureka Power.”
Let me know what you think about Scott’s observations.