Brain-Based Learning Strategies

brain based learning strategies
Robert (Bob) W. Lucas, Author, Facilitator, and Performance consultant

Brain-Based Learning Strategies

In 2013 in June, Robert (Bob) W. Lucas hosted two events for the Metro DC ASTD Chapter in Washington, DC (Tapping the Brain for Learning and Brain-Based Learning Strategies).

The sessions focused on how the brain learns and some of the research that has been done related to applying color, sound, motion, novelty, learner engagement and other strategies to enhance learning environments and potentially increase opportunities for learners to gain, retain, recall and use what they learn.

On the 26th, he provided insights at the chapter’s dinner meeting in a session titled: Tapping the Brain for Learning.  This session explored many ideas, brain-based concepts, and techniques that can be used to enhance virtually any training program or presentation topic.

At the end of the session, and when applying concepts learned, participants were able to:

a.  Facilitate creative training programs and presentations that can help induce behavior change and are FUN.

b.  Identify, make, or obtain inexpensive materials that add spark to training programs and presentations.

c.  Increase interaction with participants.

d.  Review program concepts throughout your sessions in order to get an interim check of learning before the program ends.

e.  Create memorable techniques for adding excitement and sizzle to programs so that participants keep coming back.

Brain-Based Learning Strategies Training – Past Success by Robert W. Lucas

On June 27th, Bob facilitated a one-day workshop titled: Strategies to Make Your Learning Events Sizzle. In this event, participants experienced dozens of creative training techniques based on brain research related to how the brain best learns and retains information. These strategies presented that day were meant to be immediately applied in their own learning events. They covered many training workshop essentials for typing in research to learning.

Bob went on to expand upon some of the ideas addressed in the previous night’s program. Therefore, the additional information through a variety of experiential opportunities in which participants hear about a concept, see it demonstrated and then have an opportunity to try or discuss it. They did also discuss how they might use the strategies to strengthen their own learning events.

At the end of the program, participants were able to:

  • Create training environments that stimulate learning.
  • Incorporate the latest learning brain research into their training design and delivery.
  • Design learning events that result in higher levels of attention and retention.
  • Use techniques and strategies experienced in their own learning events.
  • Add pizzazz and novelty to their learning events.
  • Immediately apply what they learned.

Get Learners Moving with Energizer Training Activities

Get Learners Moving with Energizer Training Activities

By getting your learners up and moving, you increase the blood flow carrying oxygen to their brains and help stimulate the brain neurons while helping make them more alert. That increases their opportunity to learn and retain what they experience through their senses.

Get Learners Moving with Energizer Training Activities by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Adult Learning & Training Author

Here are some creative energizer training activities to engage you, learners.

Play a Clever Catch Icebreaker

Clever Catch Ice Breaker Ball
Clever Catch Ball Training activity

-This is an easy and effective movement-based activity that introduces participants and prompts them to give interesting information about themselves at the beginning of a session. For this exercise, you’ll need a Clever Catch Ball–a 24-inch inflatable ball that you can find on the Internet or at school supply stores. The balls are available already printed with questions for an array of topics, but you can also use a writeable one.

-Before the session, use wet-erase markers to write questions or other content-related information all over the ball. For example, to open an orientation, communication, or team-building session, you might write, “What makes you decide that something is important in your life?” or “If you knew that you could not fail, what would you do?”

-At the start of training, ask your learners to form a circle and then toss the ball to someone.

-The person who catches the ball gives his or her name and then answers the question that appears under his or her right thumb.

-After answering, the catcher tosses the ball across the circle to another person.

-Play continues until everyone has caught the ball and answered a question once.

Take a Pop-Up Survey

If you want to do a quick survey to determine your learners’ experience or other characteristics, ask learners to “pop up” (stand and then sit) when you ask something pertinent to them. For example, if you ask, “Who has delivered a training program to others?” anyone who has done so stands up, then sits down.

This type of training activity prompts quick physical movement while it gives you (and the other participants) information about the people in the class.

Make Some Noise

Get Learners Moving with Energizer Training Activities

Give each learner some sort of party-type noisemaker–a whistle, a clapper or clacker, a spinner, a cowbell, or whatever you wish.

When you shout out a term or phrase related to a key session topic, everyone who knows the definition jumps up and sounds their noisemakers.

You pick one of them to offer the definition or explain the concept, and everyone else
sits down. Give a small prize or candy for a correct answer.

Repeat the process until all terms have been defined.

Play Verbal Volleyball

To add sound, laughter, movement, and fun to any session, have learners review key concepts through a game of verbal volleyball.

To play it, have learners form pairs and line up facing one another.

When you shout, “Go!” pairs take turns shouting key ideas, concepts, or terms that they’ve learned in the session.

One person in a pair shouts an idea; then her or his partner does the same—or, if nothing comes immediately to mind, shouts “Pass!”

Partners continue this way until neither one can think of another concept.

Learning does not have to be boring. By adding elements such as a bit of novelty, fun, easy magic tricks, movement, and sound, you can enhance the learning environment while engaging learner brains and potentially increasing the opportunity for comprehension and application.

Five Phases of Adult Learning

Five Phases of Adult Learning

Five Phases of Adult Learning

For learning to truly occur in an adult learning environment, a phased process is often helpful. The process that follows moves through five stages or phases. In a brain-based learning environment, participants are alerted to the learning experience in which they are about to take part. They are then led along a pre-planned path for transferring knowledge, skills, or attitudes back to the workplace or other venue.

Five Phases of Adult Learning by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Adult Learning & Training Author

Using elements of the adult learning theory popular since that phrase was coined by Malcolm Knowles decades ago, you can develop sound approaches for engaging learners and helping them better gain, retain, recall and use what they experience.

Phase 1 – Preparing Participants for Learning

In the first phase of the learning process, you must condition participants for learning. This is typically done through icebreakers or creative training activities tied to the behavioral learning objectives or session outcomes and the actual training program content. In this introductory phase you grab attention and provide a foundation of information and help focus learner’s brains onto the topic to be addressed. By doing so, you increase the likelihood that they will quickly recognize, absorb, and process new information or stimuli and assimilate it into what they already know. Further, by providing a verbal, visual, and kinesthetic push, then identifying how the new information connects to what they already know, you can assist in bridging with memories they possess.

Phase 2 – Create a Stimulating Learning Environment

The second phase of the learning process incorporates handouts, job aids, or other visual material to supplement verbal messages. Such materials allow participants to better access information based on their own learning style (visual, auditory, or kinesthetic). To support learning content and aid comprehension, you can use associated visual aids to make key points, reinforce concepts, or provide alternative methods of information delivery. For example, colorful posters, transparencies or computer-generated slides, or flip charted information helps paint a mental image of the content.

Phase 3 – Reinforcing Learning 

Once the information has been delivered to the brain via one or more of the elements in Phase 2, connections are started. As a facilitator, you can enhance these bonds by conducting interim reviews throughout a session. During such reinforcements, you help mold and stabilize the learning through repetition and by helping learners see relationships. Such activities aid in increasing the depth of learner understanding while helping prepare them for Phase 4.

Phase 4 – Content Memorization

It is during this fourth phase that neural connections are made in the brain to help ensure that a learner can subsequently access or recall information and concepts learned. You can increase the effectiveness of this phase by teaching and using a variety of mnemonic or memory techniques. These strategies help learners to later access the information acquired.

Phase 5 – Implementation of Learning

In the final phase of learning, knowledge, or skills gathered are recalled and put into practice. If a learner is not able to successfully perform tasks or regurgitate information learned, there was likely a breakdown in the learning process and further review may be required.

To test the success of this phase, have participants demonstrate knowledge or skills through tests, practical application, or by teaching others.

For ideas on how to effectively design and deliver training that aids learning and embraces adult and brain-based learning concepts, get a copy a Training Workshop Essentials: Designing, Developing, and Delivering Learning Events That Get Results.

Tapping the Brain for Learning Video Added to YouTube

Bob Lucas
Robert (Bob) W. Lucas, Author, Training and Performance Consultant and Brain-Based Learning Facilitator

Tapping the Brain for Learning Video Added to YouTube

A three-part video that shares a presentation titled Tapping the Brain for Learning by internationally-known author and learning and performance consultant, Robert (Bob) W. Lucas, has been added to YouTube.

Tapping the Brain for Learning Video Added to YouTube by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Adult Learning & Training Author

In it, Bob addresses topics covered in many of his books on how brain research related to learning can be applied in any adult classroom or training environment energize learners to enhance learning outcomes. To view these three video segments, click this link: Robert (Bob) W. Lucas on YouTube.

Learn This Blogger – Robert W. Lucas

Robert W. Lucas is an internationally-known author and learning and performance expert. He specializes in workplace performance-based training and consulting services. Furthermore, he has four decades of experience in human resources development, management, and customer service in a variety of organizational environments. Robert Lucas was the 1995 and 2011 President of the Central Florida Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).

Robert W. Lucas has lived, traveled, and worked in 28 different countries and geographic areas. During the past 40 years, Bob has shared his knowledge with workplace professionals from hundreds of organizations, such as Webster University, AAA, Orange County Clerk of Courts, Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, Martin Marietta, all U.S. military branches, and Wachovia Bank. In addition, Bob has provided consulting and training services to numerous major organizations on a variety of workplace learning topics. To contact Bob visit his website at or his blog