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Tips from TSE: Right- and left-brain learners: Strategies to facilitate hemisphere learning

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, July 10, 2009

There is increasing evidence that the learning preferences and styles of adult learners drastically influence how effectively they acquire new knowledge. The right and left hemispheres of the brain process information differently, and learners tend to absorb and manage information using the dominant hemisphere.

The right hemisphere of the brain is devoted to the creative aspects of learning and depends on music, color, visual stimulation, and pictures to process information. Right-brain learners process information holistically, seeing the big picture or the answer first, not the details. When analyzing a problem, right-brain learners start with the major concept and work backward to find the details and formulate a conclusion. These learners will become impatient with the details of a problem unless they are able to "see" its conclusion or solution quickly.

The left hemisphere of the brain is concerned with logical, reality-based functioning and enables learners to deal with language, math, and analysis of problems. Left-brain learners process information in a linear manner by first trying to understand a problem's  parts and then moving toward the whole. These learners gather information and problem solve in a step-by-step manner, using logic and reason to form conclusions. They maintain detailed schedules, checking off tasks as they are accomplished.

Editor's note: This excerpt was adapted from the July issue of The Staff Educator. Discover all the benefits of subscribing to The Staff Educator!

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