Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Psychol., 17 October 2012 | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00429

Neuromyths in education: Prevalence and predictors of misconceptions among teachers

Sanne Dekker1*, Nikki C. Lee1, Paul Howard-Jones2 and Jelle Jolles1
  • 1Department of Educational Neuroscience, Faculty of Psychology and Education, LEARN! Institute, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • 2Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

The OECD’s Brain and Learning project (2002) emphasized that many misconceptions about the brain exist among professionals in the field of education. Though these so-called “neuromyths” are loosely based on scientific facts, they may have adverse effects on educational practice. The present study investigated the prevalence and predictors of neuromyths among teachers in selected regions in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. A large observational survey design was used to assess general knowledge of the brain and neuromyths. The sample comprised 242 primary and secondary school teachers who were interested in the neuroscience of learning. It would be of concern if neuromyths were found in this sample, as these teachers may want to use these incorrect interpretations of neuroscience findings in their teaching practice. Participants completed an online survey containing 32 statements about the brain and its influence on learning, of which 15 were neuromyths. Additional data was collected regarding background variables (e.g., age, sex, school type). Results showed that on average, teachers believed 49% of the neuromyths, particularly myths related to commercialized educational programs. Around 70% of the general knowledge statements were answered correctly. Teachers who read popular science magazines achieved higher scores on general knowledge questions. More general knowledge also predicted an increased belief in neuromyths. These findings suggest that teachers who are enthusiastic about the possible application of neuroscience findings in the classroom find it difficult to distinguish pseudoscience from scientific facts. Possessing greater general knowledge about the brain does not appear to protect teachers from believing in neuromyths. This demonstrates the need for enhanced interdisciplinary communication to reduce such misunderstandings in the future and establish a successful collaboration between neuroscience and education.

Keywords: neuromyths, educational neuroscience, prevalence, predictors, teachers

Citation: Dekker S, Lee NC, Howard-Jones P and Jolles J (2012) Neuromyths in education: Prevalence and predictors of misconceptions among teachers. Front. Psychology 3:429. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00429

Received: 02 August 2012; Paper pending published: 31 August 2012;
Accepted: 01 October 2012; Published online: 18 October 2012.

Edited by:

Layne Kalbfleisch, George Mason University, USA

Reviewed by:

Kuan-Chung Chen, National University of Tainan, Taiwan
Alys Jordan, University of Alaska Fairbank, USA

Copyright: © 2012 Dekker, Lee, Howard-Jones and Jolles. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Sanne Dekker, Department of Educational Neuroscience, Faculty of Psychology and Education and LEARN! Institute, VU University Amsterdam, Prof. E.M. Meijerslaan 2, 1183 AV Amstelveen, Netherlands. e-mail: s.j.dekker@vu.nl

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