Neuroscientific Theory and Research Evidence

Neuroscientific theory and research evidence


Emotional, cognitive, and environmental effects, in addition to previous experience, exert an important role in governing the way by which world view is understood, changed, acquired or retained. Learning styles encompass a range of contested and competing theories, the primary aim of which is to account for the variations in individual learning patterns. There are four types of learning styles and the preferences towards each change, based on gender. While visual learning style focuses on pictures, shapes, and paintings, auditory learning style emphasises on rhythms, listening, chants and tones. However, kinaesthetic learning style is based on positioning, body movements and gestures. The essay discussed human learning procedure as a multifaceted adaptive system and also elaborated on the role of the hippocampus during learning. This component of the brain was found to be associated with learning of conceptual information. The essay highlighted on the gender differences that exist in relation to mathematical learning. It also elucidated Bloom’s taxonomy that encompasses the hierarchical arrangement of ordering skills that facilitate the process of learning amid students. Bloom’s taxonomy typically encompasses six different levels that are related to remembering, understanding, applying, analysing, evaluating and creating. The scholarly pieces of evidences discussed in the essay shed light on the fact that males prefer kinaesthetic learning styles, in contrast to females who prefer auditory learning styles. Moreover, findings from the literature review suggested that increased gaming flow is commonly reported by female student students. Moreover, when compared to their male counterparts, female students demonstrated enhanced critical thinking skills, and also manifested advanced development of skill acquisition.

Introduction– Learning is an umbrella term that refers to the procedure of acquiring novel or altering existing behaviour, knowledge, preferences, skills, and values. Time and again it has been found that learning manifests as a direct consequence of classical conditioning or habituation, and operant conditioning (Domjan, 2018). Moreover, learning might also occur either in absence of conscious awareness or consciously. In other words, learning can be cited as an aversive event that cannot be escaped or avoided, and often result in the onset of a condition, commonly referred to as learned helplessness (Maier, 2019). Human behavioural learning begins during the prenatal period and there are evidences for the presence of habituation during the middle stage of gestation. This provides indication for the fact that the central nervous system plays an important role on memory and learning during foetal development. Moreover, findings from the case study involving the patient Henry Molaison, who lost his capability of forming new memories, after an intractable epilepsy surgery suggested that the medial temporal lobe of the brain governs learning and memory (Dossani, Missios & Nanda, 2015). This essay will elaborate on scholarly evidences that explain gender differences, in relation to learning.

Background– According to UNICEF (2019) some of the major differences between males and females are biological and originate from physical and other variations that are associated to the gender. Learning styles encompass a plethora of contested and competing theories that attempt to provide an explanation for the variations in individual learning styles. According to these theories all individuals can be categorised based on the style of learning, despite the differences in how the individuals learn. Research evidences elaborate on the fact that there does not exist any reliable evidence that classifying the learning style for an individual, and training differently for particular learning styles, produce improved student outcomes (Liew, Sidhu & Barua, 2015).

While all individuals are unique and are able to process information in different ways, an estimated seven kinds of learning styles have been identified by researchers. Visual learners refer to those who acquire information best, in the presence of a cue or an image that helps in information processing. Visual learners also write out or map out their notions and thoughts, thus having excellent sense of direction and spatial sense. It has also been found that children who are visual learners display an interest in different activities like drawing, colouring and doodling (Rogowsky, Calhoun & Tallal, 2015). This is in contrast to auditory-musical (aural) earners who predominantly respond to sound. However, this learning style is less frequent in schools. Such aural leaners typically enjoy listening to music at the time of learning and also demonstrate a good sense of rhythm and/or pitch. Hearing jingles, songs and themes often facilitate their learning process (Zhang, 2016).

While verbal learners learn best with writing and verbal instructions, kinaesthetic learners are common in schools where the children are always moving and are tremendously animated. Such children learn best by experiencing the motions of the things that they are being taught. This helps the children notice and appreciate the surroundings. In addition, they demonstrate an inclination of picking up on body language, and enjoy solving puzzles or making models (Rahman, Ahmar & Rusli, 2016). While logical learners are less common amid children, some children are identified as social learners who participate in different extracurricular activities like group sports, and acquire information from the same.

According to Eisend (2019) gender roles comprise of stereotypes that are culturally prejudiced, following which there develops expectations for suitable behaviour for females versus males. A thorough and sound understanding of the gender roles is quite apparent amid children as young as three years of age. Moreover, the understanding of a child about gender role creates an influence on the manner in which they socialise, acquire information, and form association with their peers. It has often been found that the gender roles that are encountered in infantile stage, play a huge role in determining the self-concept of an individual, and also influence the method by which the person develops associations later on in life (Lindsey, 2015). Time and again it has been found that expectations about the future of a child often makes the parents motivate particular behaviour in their children (Coles, 2019). Nonetheless, most parental behaviour influence of the behaviour of the child, based on gender. Owing to the fact that gender differences exist in all aspects of life, there is a need to explore the differences in gender, in relation to different learning styles amid children. The research question is as follows:

Is there a distinct difference in how children learn based on gender?

Search strategy– Literature reviews help in providing a comprehensive summary of already existing information about the research phenomenon that is being investigated. The first part of the search strategy focused on formulation of the search terms and key words that would help in extraction of articles from the electronic databases. The framework provided by the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination’s (CRD) was followed at the time of search term development, and all spelling variance, synonyms and abbreviations were taken into consideration (Zeng et al., 2015). The search terms used were namely, “gender differences”, “sex differences”, “boy vs girl”, “learning style”, “children”, “kids”, and “child”. The aforementioned search terms were combined using the boolean operators ‘AND’ and ‘OR’, and fed in two electronic databases of CINAHL and Google Scholar, following which articles that were pertinent to the research question were extracted. A manual search was also conducted for extraction potentially relevant articles from the bibliography of those that were obtained from the aforementioned databases (McGowan et al., 2016). Presence of a definite inclusion and exclusion criteria helps in selecting prospective articles for a review. The table given below highlights the eligibility criteria that had been followed for the literature review:

Inclusion criteria Exclusion criteria
Articles published in English Articles published in other language
Articles published on or after 2015 Articles published prior to 2015
Articles that focus on learning style Articles that focus on other aspects
Articles that elaborate on gender differences Abstracts, unpublished articles, manuscripts
Peer reviewed articles Grey literature

Table 1- Inclusion and exclusion criteria for the proposed literature review

Literature review– It had been stated by Yang and Quadir (2018) that there exist significant variations in English learning achievement skills, in relation to learning motivation and gender. On assessing the impact that gender differences created on learning motivation and game flow experience, the latter was found to substantially forecast learning motivation. Moreover, students who had increased gaming flow experience demonstrated a six times increased likelihood of manifesting high learning motivation, in comparison to children with low gaming flow experience. Substantially high gaming flow amid female students, in comparison to males were in contrast to identical learning motivation between the genders. The aforementioned differences in learning amid males and females can be explained on by several theories. It was argued by Araiku, Sidabutar and Mairing (2019) that gender refers to the variations in functions, roles and responsibilities between males and females, which in turn is the direct consequence of social construction. The research was based on the premise that the cognitive intelligence of a person can be categorised into six levels namely, (i) Remember (C1), (ii) Understand (C2), (iii) Apply (C3), (iv) Analyze (C4), (v) Evaluate (C5), and (vi) Create (C6). The researchers conducted a quantitative study amid 75 female and 81 male students and found that significant association between cognitive level and gender of the students. It was found that the male students performed better than their female counterparts at level C1 of Bloom’s taxonomy that is associated with recalling definition, mathematic formula and theorem.

However, Ahmad and Duskri (2018) stated that one of the central competencies in learning curriculum is based on development of curiosity and creativity, in addition to critical thinking by formulating questions imperative for lifelong learning. While describing mathematics related critical thinking skills demonstrated by secondary school students, female students were found to display better skills, compared to male students. The findings of the study were in accordance to the three hierarchical models of Bloom’s taxonomy that are commonly employed for classification of learning objectives into different phases of specificity and complexity. Thus, the research findings confirmed that male and female students demonstrate differences while learning, in relation to their cognitive or knowledge-based domain. In the words of Krishnan, Watkins and Bishop (2016) children suffering from dyslexia and speech language impairment demonstrate immature learning mechanism. They stated that at the time of solving arithmetic problems, children typically switch to memory-based problem solving skills from procedure-based counting skills, concomitant with an increase in hippocampal–neocortical connectivity. Moreover, rapid learning was also associated with heavily interconnected MTL structures like perirhinal, entorhinal, parahippocampal cortices, and hippocampus.

It had been hypothesised by Olaisen, Flocke and Love (2018) that gender plays an important role in governing learning and skill acquisition about swimming, amid Latino children and youth belonging to 3-14 years age group. The researcher recruited parents through different community institutions and assessed the ability of the children to learn swimming at baseline. On exposing the participating children to swimming lessons for a period of 8 weeks it was found that the average-unadjusted skill learning development was 12.3 (95% CI ranging from 10.0 to 13.0), attained through bootstrapping. Moreover, skill acquisition development was to some extent advanced amid girls (13.4, 95% CI 11.2 to 16.0) likened with boys (11.1, 95% CI 8.9 to 13.3), who had been subjected to an equal number of swimming programs. The findings from the research helped in explaining the underlying differences that exist in relation to learning and skill acquisition based on gender, amid children. According to Kohan-Mass (2016) there exist significant gender differences in the thinking and learning styles of children. The research was conducted with the aim of characterising gender patterns about different ways of learning and thinking amid fifth and sixth grade students. On developing a written questionnaire, boys were found to steadily rate separate knowing (SK) declarations greater than girls. This was in contrast to the responses given by girls who demonstrated a minor but not substantial variance preferring connected knowing (CK) announcements. Reports from psychometric validation of the questionnaire suggested that gifted children demonstrate gender variations in their approach towards learning and knowledge acquisition, similar to the differences that are manifested by their non-gifted counterparts.

Ro and Knight (2016) used a nationally characteristic weighted sample that comprised of 4901 students and utilised a multilevel regression approach for determining the interaction effects between perceptions related to learning outcomes and gender. They were able to confirm that instructional approaches, curricular emphases, and co‐curricular participation created an impact on learning outcomes in a different way, based on gender. The findings suggested that increased curricular emphasis on advancement of professional competencies and enhanced frequency of student‐centred schooling were responsible for an increase in self‐reported design skills for females. In addition, an increase in pro-active nature during the sessions also intensified self-reported communication, design, and fundamental skills of female students. Hence, the findings of this research elaborated on the more effective development of learning outcomes among female students.

It has also been proposed by Tyas and Safitri (2017) learning style is habitual, natural and preferred approaches to how individuals acquire, process, and retain novel information. Upon conduction of a quantitative study amid 100 students, kinaesthetic learning style was observed more among males that accounted for an estimated 41% of the total population, thus confirming presence of gender differences. Leasa et al. (2018) also confirmed the above statement in their study where 88.7% students utilised unimodal learning style, in contrast to 11.3% students who preferred multimodal learning style. Moreover, kinaesthetic learning style was more prevalent in males, than females, for the unimodal learning style, hence confirming gender variations. With the aim of exploring the association between learning achievement and learning style in mathematics based on gender, Rahman and Ahmar (2017) performed a cross-sectional research. The results of the study demonstrated that auditory and visual learning styles are predominantly common in females. However, the researchers failed to establish any correlation between learning style variable, and their interaction with learning achievement.

Conversely, it was argued by Lee, Yeung and Ip (2016) despite the locales and spaces that are provided by computer technology for language learning and acquisition, demographic variables like gender and preference for learning style might create an impact on efficacy of the computer technology. While determining the impact of age and gender on learning style difference it was found that there was positive correlation between five factors namely, four types of learning styles and use of computer technology. There were no substantial gender differences between learning styles (kinaesthetic, auditory, visual, and tactile) and technology application. However, subtle age related variations were observed for tactile and kinaesthetic style. Thus, the researchers failed to elucidate gender differences in learning.

Conclusion– Thus, it can be concluded that children can be categorised based on their style of learning. The capability to learn is typically possessed by humans and the changes that are brought about by learning generally last throughout the lifespan. It is commonly problematic to differentiate learned material that cannot be recovered from that which might get lost. This calls for the need of teachers to assess the individual learning styles of their pupils, followed by adapting them to the classroom approaches, in order to obtain a best fit. The literature review discussed above provided ample evidence that people express varied penchants for how they favour to acquire information. Though there is no reliable evidence that identification of the learning style of an individual helps in producing improved student outcomes, there exist substantial evidence for the fact that males and females have different learning styles and skill acquisition preferences.