Book by Gayle H. Gregory & Terence Parry
Review by Susan Weaver
Fleming College, Peterborough, ON
Brain-based learning theory and practice can have practical uses in academic advising. There are many theories of academic advising (Church, 2005) but Gregory and Parry offer a compilation of practical ways to engage students in a whole-brain method of advising.
What are whole-brain learning activities? Whole-brain learning happens when every part of the brain is involved in learning.
This book is informative, readable, and most all, practical. The authors provide the reader with an overview of cognitive research and applicable pedagogical theory that illustrate how the reader can create units and lesson plans similar to the clear examples provided. Gregory and Parry look at three theories of intelligence: multiple intelligence based on the work of Howard Gardner, Daniel Goleman’s interpretation of Peter Salovey’s theory of emotional intelligence, and Art Costa’s theory of intelligent behavior. They illustrate how these theories, combined with brain research and pedagogical theory, can be applied in the classroom through cooperative group learning, collaborative skills, thinking skills, and graphic organizers. Finally, they address the issue of assessment using the full brain concept developed throughout the book. Each chapter includes sections entitled, “What is it?”, “Why do we need it?” and “How do we do it/teach it?”
While the book is designed to assist teachers in implementing best practices in engaging students in active, meaningful, higher order learning within their classrooms, the chapters on thinking skills and graphic organizers can be readily adapted by academic advisors for one-on-one work with advisees. “Critical thinking is convergent and seeks to narrow the field of options by applying some criteria or evaluation to data” (p. 159): the goal of many advising sessions. There are many examples of activities that could be readily adapted to advising sessions. Equally valuable is the comprehensive collection of graphic organizers. These tools allow students to apply their thinking skills to develop visual representations of past experiences, future goals, and means of reaching these goals. The authors illustrate many types of organizers from mind maps to concept webs; ranking ladders to fishbone diagrams. The authors state that, “Visual representation as an instructional strategy has been shown to increase student achievement” (p. 203) and that the use of graphic organizers (a) allows students to make connections among pieces of information, (b) makes information easier to recall, and (c) allows students to break information into manageable chunks that help them to see relationships. When used in advising situations, these tools actively engage students in the advising process and requires them to take ownership of their decisions.
If there is a downside to this book, it is in the copy editing. The significant number of errors, including incomplete sentences, is distracting. Despite this, the content is practical and logically presented; I highly recommend it. Use of ideas presented in the latter chapters, mentioned above, will re-vitalize advising sessions for both advisor and advisee through the introduction of new strategies and techniques which will take the advising session to a new level. This book will have a place of prominence on my shelf and will be one I will frequently use in my work with students.
Church, M. (2005). Integrative theory of academic advising: A proposition. The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal, 7(2). Retrieved December 20, 2006, from http://www.psu.edu/dus/mentor.
Designing Brain-Compatible Learning. (3rd Edition). (2006). Book by Gayle H. Gregory & Terence Parry. Review by Susan Weaver. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. 304 pp., $39.95, (paperback). ISBN # 1412937175