Dr. Leaf's Research
The Switch On Your Brain with the 5-Step Learning Process® is comprised of five extremely important steps. In fact, the system will not work properly unless all five steps are used correctly, because each is designed to take advantage of a particular brain process - all collectively moving toward the goal of learning.
Each of the five steps plays a vital role in the building of memory, which is all the learning process ultimately is. Research shows that true mastery of new information and skills is based on strengthening the connections between the nerve cells in the brain, as well as ensuring that the branches (or dendrites) that actually store the information are firmly attached.
The "easy-come, easy-go" neuronal connections that come from rote learning and cramming for exams are quickly reversed, which, put simply, means they are forgotten. Maintaining improvement and creating memory banks of knowledge that can be used wisely require the slow, steady work that forms new strong connections.
The Switch On Your Brain with the 5-Step Learning Process® does exactly that. Each step is meticulously designed to stimulate the correct chemical and electrical flow through the brain in the most efficient way possible to guarantee great memories and, therefore, great learning.
As knowledge is developing and skills are building in the non-conscious networks of the mind (the Metacognitive arena of the mind), it is not uncommon for the learner to feel that they are not making progress, but are simply continuing to "plug away" until the breakthrough comes. Shortcut methods don't allow lasting memory and understanding to develop; it is the persistence of sustained thinking practice that solidifies the learning. This is because our thoughts can actually change the structure of the brain! Research has shown that the mental practice that comes from thinking deeply until an understanding is reached leads to actual physical changes in the brain. In fact, the mental practice of thinking is so powerful that researchers have taught people to play the piano through their imagination as effectively as someone learning the traditional way with an actual piano!
Captured within the Switch On Your Brain with the Switch On Your Brain with the 5-Step Learning Process® system is the same "thinking-to-understanding" mental process which will forever change the way you learn and will stretch your potential to untold horizons. This approach is solidly based on the latest scientific research on the neurological and neurophysiological functioning of the brain. It draws on the neuroplastic (ability to change) character of the brain and is designed to take best advantage of the symphony of electrochemical reactions and actions occurring in the brain at a rate of 400 billion per second. One of the most exciting facts about the "plastic" brain is that the brain is never quite the same with every new piece of information we learn. This means that the brain can keep getting better and better with the mental practice provided by the Switch On Your Brain with the 5-Step Learning Process®.
The Tool of the Switch On Your Brain with the 5-Step Learning Process®
The Metacognitive-Map™ is a "brain-friendly" way of writing that looks like the branching of a tree and its leaves. Its pattern and shape are dictated by the pattern and shape of the actual neural network of the memory you are building as you analyze and understand information. It is very important to write, because writing reinforces the changes of the brain synapses at a microscopic level. As you think (step 2) you create changes in your brain; as you write in the Metacognitive-Map™ friendly format, you reinforce and strengthen those connections. You literally grow your brain at will! It is interesting to note that, just by looking at a Metacognitive-Map™, you stimulate your brain to process information from detail to big picture and from big picture to detail, which is vital to building strong memory. This only happens when both sides of the brain work together at the same time.There is so much happening in your brain as you create a Metacognitive-Map™ that even reading about it can seem overwhelming, but it is truly fascinating!
As you use the tool of Metacognitive-Mapping™, the frontal lobe, parietal lobe, temporal lobe, and occipital lobe all work together to integrate and apply the information. More neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, nor epinephrine and acetylcholine, glutamate) are released from the brainstem, traveling up through the limbic system (in the middle of the brain) into the cortex where the memory trees (or neurons) are found. The outer front part of the frontal lobe (otherwise known as the prefrontal lobe or PFC) becomes very active, keeping the information active in the neurons or "in mind" as it monitors and manipulates the contents of your short-term memory. The PFC works with other areas in the frontal lobe as well as the other lobes of the brain to make decisions, shift between the different bits of information, analyze, and so on. And, of course, a positive attitude ensures that genes are switched on for protein synthesis and that good memories can be formed.
Because of the science behind them, Metacognitive-Maps™ work for anyone and everyone, since they go much further than summarizing, note taking, or brainstorming. They allow you to extract, store, and later recall 100% of the information you need for exams, presentations, and the application of skills. When the two sides of your brain work together simultaneously, you reach an important and deep environment of learning. The hemispheres of your brain do not work together, however, when you simply read linear script. English is not the only language to embrace a linear script, or straight lines in written form. Linear script can be from left to right, right to left, or even up and down in some languages. However, reading from the center outwards is the big picture to a detailed way of reading, which is your right hemisphere's way of processing. Your eyes will also be reading from the outer branches inward towards the center, moving from detail to big picture, which is your left hemisphere's ways of processing. So, this act of creating a Metacognitive-Map™ stimulates the corpus callosum to perform its natural function, which is to get both sides of the brain working together to integrate information across the hemispheres of the brain. That is why the Metacog™ is almost literally the "tool" that switches on the brain.
There is a pandemic problem in learning and education worldwide, which can be summarized as follows: knowledge and information is increasing by the second, but the skill of how to manage this knowledge has been left behind. Consequently, there is an ever-increasing gap between the "what" (the knowledge and information) and the "how" (the management of this knowledge and information). In other words: people do not know "how to think and learn."
Dr. Leaf’s Switch On Your Brain with the 5-Step Learning Process® is a scientifically researched and proven program that attempts to deal with this problem by providing learners with the skills necessary to achieve the status of innovative and effective life-long learners. As such, it is at the cutting edge of brain and learning research because it teaches people how to think, learn, and manage knowledge.
The Metacognitive-Mapping Approach
Dr. Leaf’s initial research involved patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and students and adults with learning and emotional learning difficulties. She invented and developed a new technique called Metacognitive-Mapping Therapy using The Metacognitive-Map™ as a tool, based on a more deeply intellectual thinking pattern, that produced almost immediate improved focus, concentration, understanding, shifting efficiency, and overall effectiveness. There were even positive emotional changes specifically in self-motivation and self-esteem. They continued to improve in cognitive and emotional functioning. Her peer-reviewed published journal articles, The Mind-mapping Approach (1993) and An Alternative Non-Traditional Approach to Learning (1998), summarize Dr. Leaf’s initial research.
Dr. Leaf then proceeded to deeply examine the science of thought. She invented, developed, researched and applied a model of Geodesic Learning based on The Geodesic Information Processing Theory™. The theory was based on physiology of the learning process and was demonstrated to improve academic performance by a conservative measure of 35-75%.
Basically The Geodesic Information Processing Theory™ describes the science of thought stating that there are three levels: (1) Nonconscious metacognitive level; (2) Conscious cognitive level; and (3) Symbolic output level. The Nonconscious metacognitive level, where 90-99% of the action in your mind is, operates at 400 billion actions per second 24 hours a day and drives the Conscious cognitive level. The Conscious cognitive level, where up to 10% of the mind action is, operates at 2000 actions per second when we are awake drives the Symbolic output level. Finally the Symbolic output level incorporates the 5 senses, with which you receive information from the outside world, and the means by which you express yourself, through speech or writing for example. Thoughts cycle through the 3 levels from Nonconscious metacognitive to Conscious cognitive to Symbolic output and vice versa. As thoughts cycle through the 3 levels they change and change the thoughts connected to them in a dynamic interrelationship.
The Geodesic Information Processing Theory™ is explained in Dr. Leaf’s peer-reviewed journal article, The Development of a Model for Geodesic Learning (1997).
Switch On Your Brain with the 5-Step Learning Process®-Classroom Results
The Switch On Your Brain with the 5-Step Learning Process® was assessed in a group of charter schools in the Dallas. The results showed that the students' thinking, understanding and knowledge improved across the board. It was concluded that The Switch On Your Brain with the 5-Step Learning Process® positively changed the way the students and teachers thought and approached learning.
To read the full report click on ‘Classroom Results' below.
It must be noted that the Classroom Results show a general improvement in TAKS and grades scores after the introduction of The Switch On Your Brain with the 5-Step Learning Process®. This is cross sectional data and therefore a causal link can only be hypothesized as stated in the paper. Further research needs to done to assess causation.