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Renowned Professor Leads Learning Workshop

Friday, February 7, 2014
By Eladio Jaimez

ZadinaMath and English professors at Texas State Technical College listened attentively as Dr. Janet Zadina talked to them about how the brain works and whether students were really learning and not just thinking.

Zadina is an assistant professor of Cognitive Neuroscience in the Department of Neurology at Tulane University. Her closed-session workshop was done as part of a $320,000 grant that TSTC received from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Associate Professor Nicki Cone said Zadina's visit to TSTC was a huge step toward helping the developmental students, students who score lower that the state or national average on placement tests, on campus.

"As instructors, this gives us a better understanding of the learning process," Cone said. "Sometimes we think we know everything there is to know but there's always more to learn. And with this workshop, we're really going a different route and learning new teaching strategies."

Zadina took instructors inside the brain so that they acquired a new understanding of the nature of learning, discovered new principles for instruction based on brain research and new strategies for addressing learning differences in the classroom.

"There are multiple brain pathways involved in learning and many times we're not aware of it," Zadina said. "Sometimes it's not about math difficulty or reading comprehension or a learning disability. There's an underlying brain process that involves working memory or retention that needs to be addressed. The focus of this workshop was to talk about several brain pathways involved in learning."

Zadina does 30-plus workshops per year and has done approximately 200 in the past 10 years, she said. Zadina will speak in Singapore following this workshop and has traveled the globe presenting her findings on the brain and its different pathways to learning.

Zadina's research started 12 years ago but her speaking gigs didn't take off until after Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana.

Zadina was working at Tulane doing brain scans and looking at developmental language disorders. But after Katrina destroyed all their equipment, Zadina focused on her research and speaking career.

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