Background: There is concern about the prevalence of neuromyths in education, but
little is known about how teachers think about the brain and how this may influence
Aim: To further understanding of how teachers, at entry to the profession, think about
brain development and function.
Sample: 158 graduate trainee teachers at the end of their one-year course.
Methods: Preliminary semi-structured interviews contributed to the development of a
suitable survey instrument. Participants were then surveyed during one of their final
Results: Trainees‟ ideas reflected misconceptions in public circulation and notions
promoted by popular brain-based educational programmes. Most of the trainee
teachers in our survey did not accept, or were unsure, about whether mental activity
derives from biological brain function. Trainee teachers place equal importance on
home environment and education as determinants of educational outcome, with
genetics a significant but smaller influence than either. A follow up survey with a new
cohort of trainees confirmed that constructs about development are linked to a sense
of agency, with beliefs in strong genetic influence associated with stronger notions of
biologically-defined limits on pupil achievement.
Conclusions: In the absence of formal training, trainee teachers acquire their own
ideas about brain function, many of which are potentially detrimental to their practice
LINK: The Neuroscience Literacy of Trainee Teachers