Education That Works. The Neuroscience of Building a More Effective Higher Education
“James Stellar draws on his deep knowledge of neuroscience and his years of experience as an academic officer at major universities to make the case for adding experiential education to traditional, class-based undergraduate programs. The book’s title―Education That Works―tells it all. Quite simply, experiential education is a pedagogy that empowers young people more effectively than classroom study alone.” — Richard Freeland, past President of Northeastern University and just past Commissioner of Higher Education in Massachusetts
“We hear all the time now in higher education that experiential learning is the high-impact activity that leads to high student engagement which in turn leads to strong retention, graduation, and post-graduate outcomes. At a time when states across the nation are mandating experiential learning in higher education, neuroscientist and academic leader James Stellar has written a beautiful book that educates and inspires us about the unique power of experiential learning to transform students’ visions and decisions about their best futures. Part neuroscience primer and part part reflection on a long and successful career as a professor of neuroscience and pioneer of experiential learning, this delightful, highly readable book explains why experiential learning is so important– how it actually works, in our brains, and how it could work or work better in higher education today. Combining academic knowledge and reflection with substantive, authentic experiences that test and apply that knowledge when it really matters, is how our students can connect their talents and passions to meaningful careers. Read this book and learn why experiential learning is the right next turn for higher education.” — Vita Rabinowitz, current Provost and Vice Chancellor of the CUNY system
The book addresses the issue of how college and university education can be made more impactful by incorporating a variety of experiential education activities and how this approach is natural given what we know today about how the brain works at multiple levels from modern brain scanners. The key point is that the brain operates on conscious and unconscious decision-making levels and that the latter is under appreciated in higher education but is well-suited to learning from direct experience in complement to the academic curriculum. Classic among these experiential activities is an internship, but also included are study abroad, undergraduate research, service-learning, and other activities that bring the student’s classroom study into a more real-world project or operation in a way that allows them to apply what they are studying to what they might ultimately do with their college learning when they graduate. The book examines experiential activates from this perspective and looks at how they might be implemented in the university setting. For example, key among the programs is the use of reflection to better integrate these two types of decision-making and important among the impacts is an expected increase in retention and job/school placement after college.