Essay: Left and Right Brain Dominance and the Impact on Learning

The theory of left-brain and right-brain dominance derived from a study performed by a neuropsychologist by the name of Roger Sperry. Based on this study it was gathered that each person learns and thinks by using mainly one side of their brain. Some people are right-brain dominant and some are left-brain dominant. There are also some that think with part of each side. These people are referred to as middle-brained or whole-brained thinkers.

Research has shown that right-brain learners are more intuitive and spontaneous people. When it comes to the right side of the brain ‘it thinks in pictures not words.’ (O’Conner, 1997, 8) ‘Visual-spatial skills of location and direction (maps), reorganizing colors and shapes and imagining and arranging them into art (sculpture, painting, architecture, music, rhythm, and dance) are functions of the right brain.’ (O’Conner, 1997, 8) The right-brained tend to look at the big picture beforehand rather than all the details and facts. A left-brained is driven by logic and prefers following steps or a specific system to accomplish a task. Details and facts are always important to the left brain. ‘It decodes and processes information.’ (O’Conner, 1997, 9) ‘It works step-by-step; sees things in parts; puts things in order; remembers people’s names; comes up with logical answers to problems.’ (O’Conner, 1997, 9) Middle-brained learners use each side of the brain thus making them more flexible when it comes to learning new things. Many studies have been conducted that validate these things.

Another study was conducted that utilized students learning English as a second language. (Oflaz, 2011) The subjects of this study were all taught by different teachers who used various teaching methods. In this study the left and right-brain traits were again examined. The left-brain students in this study were more organized than their right-brain counterparts. They also approached things more seriously and realistically. Creativeness was not a strong point for left-brain thinkers. Language was an area in which the left-brained excelled. In this same study, right-brained students showed to be less serious-minded. They showed more of a humorous side and outlook on things. They also had more of a creative side. The desire to explore and fantasize was proven a prevalent trait. Right-brained students recalled faces rather than names and pictures rather than words unlike the left-brained students. This study, like many others conducted before it, helps to reiterate the initial study of brain dominance by Roger Sperry. These studies are important pieces of information for a student, teacher, or tutor.

As a teacher or tutor, in order to cater to a wide range of students, whether left, right or middle-brained, it would benefit them to examine their own personal learning style and which side of the brain is dominant in them. (Connell, 1999) The dominant side would ultimately have an impact on the teaching methods used. Learning this information would allow a teacher to better implement different methods of teaching from what they would normally consider, thus helping students grasp the information no matter what their dominant side of the brain. ‘In general schools tend to favor left-brain modes of thinking, and they mostly ignore the right-brain ones.’ (Oflaz, 2011, 17) The schools should take more of a middle-brained approach, focusing on the skills of both sides. (Oflaz, 2011) For example: a teacher could allow the left- brain students to work alone, as they usually prefer, and the right-brained students to work in groups. (Connell, 1999) Another helpful approach for right-brains is a hands-on approach (Connell, 1999) After or during a lecture or verbal instructions pictures and diagrams could be used to help the right-brained students better understand what is being taught. (Connell, 1999) Use of a whiteboard and study guides that highlight main ideas would also be helpful for right-brain students since they usually focus on the big picture of the subject. (Connell, 1999) Using a descriptive outline or a sequence of steps would make the subject matter more retainable for the left-brained students. Taking each learning style into consideration will help each student stay focused and informed.
In a society and education system that normally favors and embraces the left-brain ways of learning, teachers have a chance to make a difference. While it is beneficial to know your own dominant side when learning so you can adapt in your own way, it is more beneficial for teachers and schools to take this information into consideration and not simply adhere to one type of learning, the left-brain, as they have been proven do most of the time. This could cause many students drift off or daydream, especially right-brained students, and lose the important information being discussed. Teachers can take this knowledge and use it to develop lesson plans to accommodate both types of students. Understanding left-brain and right-brain dominance will prepare them to take on different teaching techniques and use these new techniques for the benefit of their students. By accepting all of the unique attributes of each side of the brain and its learning styles and incorporating teaching methods that encompass both, all students will have a fair chance at learning and a better understanding overall. (O’Conner, 1997) ‘Quality professionals who choose to deny the validity of other thinking styles will close themselves off from their colleagues and limit their own professional growth by avoiding different concepts to address different situations.’ (Dew, 1996, 15)

Left and Right Brain Dominance and the Impact on Learning
The theory of left-brain and right-brain dominance derived from a study performed by a neuropsychologist by the name of Roger Sperry. Based on this study it was gathered that each person learns and thinks by using mainly one side of their brain. Some people are right-brain dominant and some are left-brain dominant. There are also some that think with part of each side. These people are referred to as middle-brained or whole-brained thinkers.
Research has shown that right-brain learners are more intuitive and spontaneous people. When it comes to the right side of the brain ‘it thinks in pictures not words.’ (O’Conner, 1997, 8) ‘Visual-spatial skills of location and direction (maps), reorganizing colors and shapes and imagining and arranging them into art (sculpture, painting, architecture, music, rhythm, and dance) are functions of the right brain.’ (O’Conner, 1997, 8) The right-brained tend to look at the big picture beforehand rather than all the details and facts. A left-brained is driven by logic and prefers following steps or a specific system to accomplish a task. Details and facts are always important to the left brain. ‘It decodes and processes information.’ (O’Conner, 1997, 9) ‘It works step-by-step; sees things in parts; puts things in order; remembers people’s names; comes up with logical answers to problems.’ (O’Conner, 1997, 9) Middle-brained learners use each side of the brain thus making them more flexible when it comes to learning new things. Many studies have been conducted that validate these things.
Another study was conducted that utilized students learning English as a second language. (Oflaz, 2011) The subjects of this study were all taught by different teachers who used various teaching methods. In this study the left and right-brain traits were again examined. The left-brain students in this study were more organized than their right-brain counterparts. They also approached things more seriously and realistically. Creativeness was not a strong point for left-brain thinkers. Language was an area in which the left-brained excelled. In this same study, right-brained students showed to be less serious-minded. They showed more of a humorous side and outlook on things. They also had more of a creative side. The desire to explore and fantasize was proven a prevalent trait. Right-brained students recalled faces rather than names and pictures rather than words unlike the left-brained students. This study, like many others conducted before it, helps to reiterate the initial study of brain dominance by Roger Sperry. These studies are important pieces of information for a student, teacher, or tutor.
As a teacher or tutor, in order to cater to a wide range of students, whether left, right or middle-brained, it would benefit them to examine their own personal learning style and which side of the brain is dominant in them. (Connell, 1999) The dominant side would ultimately have an impact on the teaching methods used. Learning this information would allow a teacher to better implement different methods of teaching from what they would normally consider, thus helping students grasp the information no matter what their dominant side of the brain. ‘In general schools tend to favor left-brain modes of thinking, and they mostly ignore the right-brain ones.’ (Oflaz, 2011, 17) The schools should take more of a middle-brained approach, focusing on the skills of both sides. (Oflaz, 2011) For example: a teacher could allow the left- brain students to work alone, as they usually prefer, and the right-brained students to work in groups. (Connell, 1999) Another helpful approach for right-brains is a hands-on approach (Connell, 1999) After or during a lecture or verbal instructions pictures and diagrams could be used to help the right-brained students better understand what is being taught. (Connell, 1999) Use of a whiteboard and study guides that highlight main ideas would also be helpful for right-brain students since they usually focus on the big picture of the subject. (Connell, 1999) Using a descriptive outline or a sequence of steps would make the subject matter more retainable for the left-brained students. Taking each learning style into consideration will help each student stay focused and informed.
In a society and education system that normally favors and embraces the left-brain ways of learning, teachers have a chance to make a difference. While it is beneficial to know your own dominant side when learning so you can adapt in your own way, it is more beneficial for teachers and schools to take this information into consideration and not simply adhere to one type of learning, the left-brain, as they have been proven do most of the time. This could cause many students drift off or daydream, especially right-brained students, and lose the important information being discussed. Teachers can take this knowledge and use it to develop lesson plans to accommodate both types of students. Understanding left-brain and right-brain dominance will prepare them to take on different teaching techniques and use these new techniques for the benefit of their students. By accepting all of the unique attributes of each side of the brain and its learning styles and incorporating teaching methods that encompass both, all students will have a fair chance at learning and a better understanding overall. (O’Conner, 1997) ‘Quality professionals who choose to deny the validity of other thinking styles will close themselves off from their colleagues and limit their own professional growth by avoiding different concepts to address different situations.’ (Dew, 1996, 15)

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