The Effects of Whole Brain Teaching Strategies in the General Education Classroom

Open Access
Nellis, Hannah Dolores
Area of Honors:
Curriculum and Instruction
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Carla Zembal Saul, Thesis Supervisor
  • Carla Zembal Saul, Honors Advisor
  • James F Nolan Jr., Faculty Reader
  • Whole Brain Teaching
  • classroom management
  • on-task behavior
  • recall
  • engagement
  • behavior
  • attention
As a kindergarten intern for the Professional Development School at The Pennsylvania State University, I observed my students and their behavioral needs. Many of my students demonstrated the urge to move and talk during whole group instruction. For most students, school is the first time they are expected to exhibit on-task behaviors for an allotted time period. Through the implementation of Whole Brain Teaching (WBT) strategies, I considered how I could improve the students’ recall of information and on-task behavior while letting them move and talk, two significant behaviors that had been leading them to be off-task. WBT is an education reform approach with a goal of creating instruction that is full of fun, on-task learning experiences, while students’ whole brains are activated as they see, hear, say, feel, and do. The purpose of this research study is to investigate the effects of WBT strategies on teachers and students in the general education classroom, specifically regarding on-task behavior during whole-group instruction and recall of information after the lesson. Through systematic data collection and interviews, I describe on-task behavior and student learning when students perform WBT gestures during whole group instruction as a classroom management strategy and as a method of teaching concepts. Research has been done on the effects of WBT strategies, but it is unclear which variation of the approach most positively impacts the students’ on-task behavior and learning. More specifically, I examined the difference between gestures that the teacher introduced and those that students generated and how this contributed to on-task behavior and recall of information.