Buzick, Joan, “Understanding the Biopsychological Effects of Trauma on Learning: An Investigation of Interventions to Support Faculty” (2019). Seton Hall University Dissertations and Theses (ETDs). 2719. https://scholarship.shu.edu/dissertations/2719.
The current era in higher education has brought changes to the academic profession. Faculty have an increasing number of responsibilities in addition to their traditional role as an instructor. At the same time, faculty are engaging with a changing and diverse student population. The population has more challenges, with increased stressors, than have been historically observed in higher education students. For many, the stressors are trauma-related and are a growing concern. Trauma has been shown to impact cognitive, social, emotional, and physical well-being. What has been learned about trauma is, to a great extent, a result of the relatively recently emerged science of biopsychology. Biopsychological information has become an integral component in trauma-informed faculty development programs. While the perception is that these programs are effective, it is not known whether biopsychological knowledge could inform faculty understanding of student behaviors and whether faculty believe this new science could inform their teaching practices. The purpose of this study was to assess faculty knowledge and their attitudes and beliefs about practices as they pertain to the effectiveness of biopsychological knowledge related to trauma and to determine whether a trauma-informed workshop could effectively deliver this knowledge. The study also sought to understand the key factors necessary for facilitating these trauma programs. The results of this investigation indicate that faculty lack knowledge about the biopsychological effects of trauma on learning. Presenting a trauma-informed workshop was effective in increasing faculty knowledge and their belief that biopsychology can inform teaching practices. Faculty who attended the workshop had favorable attitudes prior to attending. Faculty indicated that time was the primary factor in impeding or inhibiting participating in trauma-informed programs.
Desai, P. (2018). How Teachers Can Use Trauma-Informed Mindfulness Practices to Support their Students. https://www.mindfulschools.org/inspiration/trauma-informed-mindfulness-practices/
Eyler, J.R. (2018). How Humans Learn: The Science and Stories Behind Effective College Teaching.
Even on good days, teaching is a challenging profession. One way to make the job of college instructors easier, however, is to know more about the way students learn. How Humans Learn aims to do just that by peering behind the curtain and surveying research in fields as diverse as developmental psychology, anthropology, and cognitive neuroscience for insight behind learning. Eyler identifies five broad themes running through the recent scientific inquiry—curiosity, sociality, emotion, authenticity, and failure—devoting a chapter to each and providing practical takeaways for busy teachers.
Ford, J. and J. Wortmann (2013). Hijacked by your Brain: How to Free Yourself When Stress Takes Over.
Stress is not the enemy. In order to reduce stress, you have to understand why your brain causes you to feel stress and how you can take advantage of it to handle the high-stress people and situations in your life.This groundbreaking book reveals the step missing in most stress reduction guides. We can’t stop stress, but we can control the effect stress has on us. Hijacked by Your Brain is the user’s manual for your brain that shows you how to free yourself when stress takes over.
Ham, J. (2017). Understanding Trauma: Learning Brain versus Survival Brain. https://youtu.be/KoqaUANGvpA
While this very useful video orients towards learning and trauma in children, the information easily translates to adult learning as well. This video reframes a trauma perspective in terms of learning brain versus survival brain as a way to make it easier for teachers to talk about trauma with students.
Imad, Mays (2020). “Leveraging the Neuroscience of Now.” Inside Higher Ed. 3 June 2020. https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2020/06/03/seven-recommendations-helping-students-thrive-times-trauma
Mays Imad explores seven ways professors can help students thrive in class in times of trauma.
Immordino-Yang, M. H. (2016). Emotions, learning, and the brain: Exploring the educational implications of affective neuroscience. W. W. Norton & Company.
In this ground-breaking collection, Mary Helen Immordino-Yang—an affective neuro-scientist, human development psychologist, and former public school teacher—presents a decade of work with the potential to revolutionize educational theory and practice by deeply enriching our understanding of the complex connection between emotion and learning. With her signature talent for explaining and interpreting neuroscientific findings in practical, teacher-relevant terms, Immordino-Yang offers two simple but profound ideas: first, that emotions are such powerful motivators of learning because they activate brain mechanisms that originally evolved to manage our basic survival; and second, that meaningful thinking and learning are inherently emotional, because we only think deeply about things we care about. Together, these insights suggest that in order to motivate students for academic learning, produce deep understanding, and ensure the transfer of educational experiences into real-world skills and careers, educators must find ways to leverage the emotional aspects of learning. Emotions, Learning, and the Brain is the educator’s foray into the neurobiology of emotion. It is a game-changing book that will transform the way teachers think about learning.
Levine, P.A. (2010). In An Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness.
In this culmination of his life’s work, Peter A. Levine draws on his broad experience as a clinician, a student of comparative brain research, a stress scientist and a keen observer of the naturalistic animal world to explain the nature and transformation of trauma in the body, brain and psyche. In an Unspoken Voice is based on the idea that trauma is neither a disease nor a disorder, but rather an injury caused by fright, helplessness and loss that can be healed by engaging our innate capacity to self-regulate high states of arousal and intense emotions. Enriched with a coherent theoretical framework and compelling case examples, the book elegantly blends the latest findings in biology, neuroscience and body-oriented psychotherapy to show that when we bring together animal instinct and reason, we can become more whole human beings.
Levine, P.A. (1997). Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma. The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences. Penguin Random House.
Waking the Tiger offers a new and hopeful vision of trauma. It views the human animal as a unique being, endowed with an instinctual capacity. It asks and answers an intriguing question: why are animals in the wild, though threatened routinely, rarely traumatized? By understanding the dynamics that make wild animals virtually immune to traumatic symptoms, the mystery of human trauma is revealed. Waking the Tiger normalizes the symptoms of trauma and the steps needed to heal them. People are often traumatized by seemingly ordinary experiences. The reader is taken on a guided tour of the subtle, yet powerful impulses that govern our responses to overwhelming life events. To do this, it employs a series of exercises that help us focus on bodily sensations. Through heightened awareness of these sensations trauma can be healed.
Medina, J. (2014). Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School.
Most of us have no idea what’s really going on inside our heads. Yet brain scientists have uncovered details every business leader, parent, and teacher should know—like the need for physical activity to get your brain working its best. How do we learn? What exactly do sleep and stress do to our brains? Why is multi-tasking a myth? Why is it so easy to forget—and so important to repeat new knowledge? Is it true that men and women have different brains?
Oakley, B. (2014). Learning how to Learn. TEDxOakland University. https://youtu.be/O96fE1E-rf8
This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Engineering professor Barbara Oakley is co-teaching one of the world’s largest online classes, “Learning How to Learn”, https://www.coursera.org/course/learning. She knows firsthand how it feels to struggle with math. Dr. Oakley flunked her way through high school math and science courses, before enlisting in the U.S. Army immediately after graduation. When she saw how her lack of mathematical and technical savvy severely limited her options—both to rise in the military and to explore other careers—she returned to school with a new found determination to re-tool her brain to master the very subjects that had given her so much trouble throughout her entire life. Barbara Oakley, PhD, PE is a professor of engineering at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. Her research focuses on the complex relationship between neuroscience and social behavior, and has been described as “revolutionary” by the Wall Street Journal.
Perry, B. (2013). Seven Slide Series: The Human Brain. Child Trauma Academy Channel. https://youtu.be/uOsgDkeH52o
A brief introduction to core concepts regarding brain structure and function that provide the basis for developmentally sensitive and trauma-informed caregiving, education and therapy.
Seven Slide Series: Sensitization and Tolerance. https://youtu.be/qv8dRfgZXV4
Sensitization and Tolerance: An introduction to the crucial role that patterns of stress response system activation play in pathology and healing.
Seven Slide Series: Threat Response Patterns. https://youtu.be/sr-OXkk3i8E
An introduction to variety of adaptive responses that can be used under threat, with a focus on the hyperarousal and dissociative continuum.
Porges S. W. (2009). The polyvagal theory: new insights into adaptive reactions of the autonomic nervous system. Cleveland Clinic journal of medicine, 76 Suppl 2(Suppl 2), S86–S90. https://doi.org/10.3949/ccjm.76.s2.17
Citation/Abstract/Free Full Text link Retrieved from National Library of Medicine/PMC: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3108032/
The polyvagal theory describes an autonomic nervous system that is influenced by the central nervous system, sensitive to afferent influences, characterized by an adaptive reactivity dependent on the phylogeny of the neural circuits, and interactive with source nuclei in the brainstem regulating the striated muscles of the face and head. The theory is dependent on accumulated knowledge describing the phylogenetic transitions in the vertebrate autonomic nervous system. Its specific focus is on the phylogenetic shift between reptiles and mammals that resulted in specific changes to the vagal pathways regulating the heart. As the source nuclei of the primary vagal efferent pathways regulating the heart shifted from the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus in reptiles to the nucleus ambiguus in mammals, a face–heart connection evolved with emergent properties of a social engagement system that would enable social interactions to regulate visceral state.
Siegel, D. Flipping Your Lid. https://heartmindonline.org/resources/daniel-siegel-flipping-your-lid
Mindsight and Brainstorm author and child psychiatrist Daniel Siegel describes the brain process that leads to anger exploding—and the executive brain functions that can be cultivated in both adults and children in order to avoid ”flipping your lid”. Flipping your lid describes how higher cortical functions and especially executive functioning go offline or become largely inaccessible when the stress and threat response has been activated. Skills of self-regulation (and ultimately of co-regulation as well) become critical for the learning brain to be receptive.
Siegel, D. (2012). Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology: An Integrative Handbook of the Mind.
What is the mind? What makes a healthy mind? How do we become aware and come to know about life? And perhaps most importantly, what are the connections among the mind, brain, and relationships? From psychologists to linguists, neuroscientists to philosophers, people have explored the nature of mental life, yet no interdisciplinary framework has existed for wisely answering these fundamental questions or even offering a definition of what the mind is. Here, Siegel bridges domains of knowledge to offer a book that reveals the way the mind works via a format that reflects the brain’s natural mode of learning (flip the Pocket Guide open to any page and you will find an “entry point” that guides you to explore, in your own way, the web of integrated knowledge). Walking us through the intricate foundations of interpersonal neurobiology, Siegel allows us to see the personal and professional applications of this exciting new approach to developing a healthy mind, an integrated brain, and empathic relationships.
Tokuhama-Espinosa, T. (2011). Mind, Brain, and Education Science: A Comprehensive Guide to the New Brain-Based Teaching. New York: W. W. Norton.
A groundbreaking work, Mind, Brain, and Education Science explains the new transcdisciplinary academic field that has grown out of the intersection of neuroscience, education, and psychology.
van der Kolk, Bessel (2014). The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Penguin Books, 2014.
Drawing on more than thirty years at the forefront of research and clinical practice, Bessel van der Kolk shows that the terror and isolation at the core of trauma literally reshape both brain and body. New insights into our survival instincts explain why traumatized people experience incomprehensible anxiety and numbing and intolerable rage, and how trauma affects their capacity to concentrate, to remember, to form trusting relationships, and even to feel at home in their own bodies. Having lost the sense of control of themselves and frustrated by failed therapies, they often fear that they are damaged beyond repair.
What distinguishes THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE is that the author is both a scientific researcher with a long history of measuring the effect of trauma on brain function, memory, and treatment outcomes, and an active therapist who keeps learning from his patients what benefits them most. This makes for deeply personal, analytic, and highly readable (not to mention incredibly moving) approach to the topic of trauma recovery.
The title underscores the book’s central idea: Exposure the abuse and violence fosters the development of a hyperactive alarm system and molds a body that gets stuck in fight/flight, and freeze. Trauma interferes with the brain circuits that involve focusing, flexibility, and being able to stay in emotional control. A constant sense of danger and helplessness promotes the continuous secretion of stress hormones, which wreaks havoc with the immune system and the functioning of the body’s organs. Only making it safe for trauma victims to inhabit their bodies, and to tolerate feeling what they feel, and knowing what they know, can lead to lasting healing. This may involve a range of therapeutic interventions (one size never fits all), including various forms of trauma processing, neurofeedback, theater, meditation, play, and yoga.
van der Kolk, Bessel (2021). What is trauma? The author of the The Body Keeps the Score explains. The Big Think on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJfmfkDQb14
Wolkin, J. (2016). The Science of Trauma, Mindfulness, and PTSD
How the brain responds to traumatic events, and what science says about how mindfulness meditation helps people process trauma and decrease suffering.