When I say that learning should be dope, I mean dope as it is defined to be “outstanding” or “excellent”! However, the neurotransmitter dopamine also has something to do with it!
Many of us realize the importance of actively engaging participants in learning activities. It has been proven that participatory learner-centered training results in better learning, transfer and retention. We know this because researchers as well as trainers have experienced and observed these positive results.
Those of us in the accelerated learning field who focus on engaging as many of our participants’ senses as possible in selected learning activities ascribe the effectiveness of our training to the creation of a “whole body” learning experience that stimulates the emotions.
If we are familiar with the Triune Brain model, we are aware that the memory is lodged in the limbic system, which processes emotions. The memory is therefore grounded in our emotions.
But there is another deeper factor that explains why learning and retention are increased when we emotionally engage participants: learning is dope!
By this I mean that research has discovered that the neurotransmitter dopamine plays a critical role in learning.
Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that is produced when we experience a pleasing reward. According to Dr. Martha Burns, dopamine is the “save button” in the brain.
The following information is drawn from her article: Dopamine and Learning: What The Brain’s Reward Center Can Teach Educators:
“When dopamine is present during an event or experience, we remember it; when it is absent, nothing seems to stick.
There are actually some regions of the brain that increase our motivation and interest in activities. Often referred to collectively as the reward center, the regions are activated by dopamine. And the more motivated and interested we are in an activity, the more dopamine is released and the better we remember it.
The reward center helps us to stay focused and repeat activities that were reinforced through positive outcomes – whether it is finding and returning to a location where good things happened in our life or just remembering interesting information. “
Dr. Burns believes trainers can keep high dopamine levels in our participants’ brains when we make sure that our training is “New, Exciting and Rewarding (NEAR).”
We make learning “dope” when we use participatory, accelerated and self-discovery learning activities. And that is why our learner-centered training results in such effective learning and retention.