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A mixed-method study of a brain -compatible education program of grades K–5 in a Mid -Atlantic inner -city public elementary /middle school

Peter J Bertucci, Johnson & Wales University


Interdisciplinary research advances have fostered theoretical conceptualizations of brain-compatible practice that promotes neurological changes. As unaligned practices are questioned, skeptics warn brain research is being misinterpreted. Valid brain and learning data are needed. The primary research question of this study was: How can best educational practices supported by neuroscientific research be separated from overstatement of educational applicability? A mixed method research design qualitatively prioritized an explanatory critical case study of the phenomenon, brain-compatible education. A single case type II design with embedded analytical units was employed (Yin, 2002). A brain-compatible program at a Mid-Atlantic inner-city elementary/middle school was studied. The embedded units were staff perceptions of the program and associated student outcomes. The theoretical proposition was the program was implemented to improve teaching and learning by taking advantage of how the brain learns. Data collection included document analysis, observation, interviewing, and surveying. The Stufflebeam program evaluation assessment model was used to evaluate the program (Madaus, Scriven, & Stufflebeam, 1983). Participating teachers were purposefully selected program practitioners from grades K-5. Five of those participants were randomly selected for observation. The principal, arts integration specialist, curriculum specialist, and observed teachers were interviewed and fifteen remaining program practitioners self-administered surveys. Qualitative data were analyzed utilizing content analysis, pattern matching, and thematic coding. The quantitative ex post facto component descriptively compared 2003 through 2005 grade 5 study site state assessments, advanced aggregate and subgroup performance, in reading and mathematics to a similar in-district school and the state respectively. No causal representations were offered. The findings suggest innovation requires integrative research utility. Further, it was found that, combining charismatic leadership, voluntary staff participation, a shared vision, adequate resources, and community involvement fosters educational change. Moreover, brain-compatibility requires a positive emotional climate and interactive teaching to engage students and promote deeper learning. Positive state assessment trends were described in mathematics and reading. This research assists educators in refining practice through brain-compatible alignment, presents conditions for innovation, provides a case for multiple-analysis, and adds to the extant data base. Recommendations from this study propose brain-compatibility advocacy and enhanced educator training around research, the brain and learning, and cognition. Future research should investigate other variables within the program, additional in context brain-compatible programs, emotional learning climates, and early brain-compatible intervention.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|School administration|Teacher education

Recommended Citation

Bertucci, Peter J, "A mixed-method study of a brain -compatible education program of grades K–5 in a Mid -Atlantic inner -city public elementary /middle school" (2006). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3234449.