Date of Award


Degree Type

Thesis (On-Campus Access Only)

First Advisor

Jacqueline Waggoner


The purpose of this qualitative study was to answer the question, "How can a brain-based approach to learning and teaching improve conditions and environment to optimize learning? The brain-based learning approach is based on recent research about how the brain learns and what methods and strategies are compatible to the natural learning processes of the brain. Leslie Hart (1983) and Susan Kovalik (1997) were frequently cited in this study, as they are leading proponents for an overhaul of the traditional curriculum to accommodate brain-compatible learning components. This study took place in an elementary school located in an urban area -of the Pacific Northwest. The participants were fourth grade children. Data for this study were gathered in the classroom using qualitative research methods to include observations, interviews, and surveys. All participants in this study were provided with pseudonyms. This study revealed that there are many methods and strategies for implementing brain-based learning components. Some of these were; providing students choice, hands-on learning, and meaningful, student-directed content. Also important in implementing a brain-based approach was establishing an absence of threat in the learning environment through the physical appearance of the classroom and positive interactions between students and the teacher. Effects of a brain-based approach to learning for the students in this study included increased motivation, high interest level in the curriculum, increased efforts of lower achieving students to achieve and peer tutoring and modeling.