Publication Date

Spring 2019

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)

First Advisor

Dr. Elka Todeva


Cumulative scientific evidence over the last seventy years has established that the brain has a lifelong ability to change itself which has almost revolutionary implications for educators and mentors. No longer is the brain thought of as fixed, with a gradual loss of potentiality. Rather, experiences have been shown to have the ability to alter and prune the neural connections in the brain, allowing for lifelong learning, and, not as once thought, learning in youth only. This paper will explore such neuroplasticity from an educational perspective, in particular how various pedagogical approaches and experiences can sculpt the adult brain. The newer studies of the brain have merged with studies from other disciplines such as psychology and education and their results have broad implications for the educators/mentors of learners attending adult education and community education programs. Federally funded adult education programs in the U.S. and in Maine will be reviewed, as well as the factors that pose barriers for the basic literacy and English as a Second Language (ESL) students attending them. We will conclude by bringing to the attention of mentors and educators some approaches that nurture brain growth, enhance self-motivation, increase autonomy, and promote lifelong learning.


Adult and Continuing Education and Teaching | Disability and Equity in Education | Educational Psychology | Language and Literacy Education | Teacher Education and Professional Development