NYU Researchers Awarded $1.4 Million NSF Grant to Study Brain Activity of Students and Teachers in the Classroom

NYU Steinhardt and NYU Psychology researchers are collaborating on a project to study the brain basis of social interactions between students and teachers in a high school classroom.

The three-year project, which began this month, is funded through a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s EHR Core Research program, which supports work that advances research on STEM learning.

The research will use portable electroencephalogram (EEG) technology to record brain activity from a teacher and a group of students in a science classroom. The goal is to investigate whether similarities and differences in brain activity between teachers and students predict students’ engagement and learning outcomes.

“The extent to which brainwaves exhibit similar patterns across students can be useful in the future as an objective measure of the effectiveness of teaching practices associated with specific ways of teaching in science, providing insight into the learning process in real time,” said Catherine Milne, professor of science education at NYU Steinhardt and the projects co-principal investigator.

As part of the project, an EEG-based neuroscience curriculum for high schools will also be developed and tested.

The project builds on earlier NYU research using EEG technology to record students’ brain activity in the classroom. The new study will use more advanced wireless EEG headsets that provide richer and more accurate neurophysiological data than those used in previous studies. The new research will record brain activity not only from students, but also from teachers, and will be conducted in multiple schools.

“This project takes neuroscience research outside of the laboratory and into the classroom, taking an important step in integrating neuroscience research and education practices,” said David Poeppel, professor of psychology and neural science at NYU and the study’s principal investigator. (NSF grant number: 1661016)

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