Inside: Mental development is important when teaching any science including life sciences. Science, particularly human science, is unlike any other subject. An understanding of the fundamentals and facts is important. For this to happen, you must ensure that teachings provide mental stimulation and hit the students on a psychological level.
Mental development is important. As a parent, a tutor, or an employer, the value of teaching life science to the people around you cannot be emphasized enough. However, when teaching ecology, cell biology, anatomy, or any related subject, it’s vital that you do it in style. Perhaps one of the easiest issues to overlook is the need to satisfy the mental attributes of learning. Here’s why you must pay greater focus on mental development, regardless of the situation or student ages.
Psychology of Mental Development Impacts How Students Engage With Content
When learning Applied Psychology at the University of Southern California, you discover the need for motivation. Learning life sciences or any subject is affected by three key areas:
- attention – the ability to concentrate on the job at hand
- anxiety – factors that lead to a decrease in ideas learned
- perseverance – passion to stick with something for the long-term
Anxiety and Mental Development
Anxiety is a huge factor affecting learning because it has a negative impact on both attention and perseverance.
- The student may be uncomfortable in the learning environment which is a distraction and reduces the ability to learn.
- Working memory (the ability to hold on to the last thing learned) is reduced so it can’t be reflected on or moved into long-term memory.
- The student can’t concentrate efficiently making anxiety even worse.
- Anxiety is often an inconsistent state as a person can be anxious one day and not the next resulting in uneven learning and making it harder for teachers and parents to figure out how to address the learning problems.
- When students are anxious they often use avoidance tactics…avoiding lectures, class, or homework completion.
Reducing Anxiety Improves Learning
Reducing factors that can lead to anxiety in your students is key to getting most students to learn to the best of their capabilities.
- Keep consistent routines.
- Outline learning goals before a lesson so students know what to expect.
- Make sure the results you are seeking to evaluate match with lesson expectations and goals.
- Praise effort as well as results as most students will not immediately grasp new concepts.
- Show passion for the subject through your body language and lesson design.
Reducing anxiety improves attention and can create a passion for the life sciences in your students. A student that develops a mentality where they want to learn will naturally gain far more from your teachings. Keeping the focus on material that is key to learning goals keeps students motivated.
This translates to better grades, improved skill development, and an easier life for you as an educator. While some students, children or employees, will have the natural desire to learn, many won’t. Your job, then, is to find ways of promoting engagement. Interactive learning and fun assignments are ideal. When teaching older students, it’s worth highlighting and reminding them of the rewards that their diploma and skills will bring.
Students Often Believe False Truths
The human brain is an information sponge that often take in false data. This can manifest itself in many ways, such as believing false tree planting urban legends (thereby being unsuccessful in keeping that new tree alive), or incorrect facts. Another issue is when the things we learn become outdated due to evolution and increased understanding. Either way, a student that thinks they know better can be a big problem.
While this has been a concern for many generations, the digital age has made the situation far worse. Your job as an educator is to dispel myths and give explanations as to how our previous knowledge in relation to human sciences wasn’t accurate. This could, for example, reference biological studies. Crucially, you must ensure your teachings are updated.
Dropout Rates Are Particularly High
When teaching older students, there is always a threat of potential drop outs. However, as per Living Science, only about 40% of students in STEM courses actually graduate in a STEM field of study. The other 60% either drop out of school or switch to a non-STEM subject. While the work is hard, many struggle to cope purely because the traditional methods of teaching are a little outdated. Avoid them at all costs.
- All science starts with the scientific method. Make sure your students understand how to use the scientific method. They will appreciate life science lessons better if they understand the process of science inquiry.
- Make sure your students understand the unique vocabulary of the life science topic. If they have no idea what an ovale foramen is when you’re discussing fetal development, you’re going to lose their attention and increase their anxiety.
Focusing on the history of human science isn’t necessary. It’s far better to focus on the method. Increased engagement is a big benefit. It also encourages students to actively follow a path that develops the next generation of scientists. Whether teaching young kids or students that want to pursue a career in this field, developing critical thinking is crucial.
The Final Word
Science, particularly human science, is unlike any other subject. An understanding of the fundamentals and facts is important. Nonetheless, true success comes from encouraging students to ask “how” and “why” to key questions. For this to happen, you must ensure that teachings provide mental stimulation and hit the students on a psychological level.
Do this while supporting yourself with the right materials, and you will see stunning outcomes.