TEACHING & RESEARCH
Our brains are constantly changing as we learn about the world around us! Our experiences modify the way that our neurons are connected to each other, and as neurons strengthen their connections to other neurons, networks of many connected neurons form. The information contained within each network represents something that we have perceived or learned, and this information can be used to influence our behavior in the future. That means that our learning history, and what we remember about that learning history, fundamentally make us who we are!
Although learning and memory are things that we all understand on some level, it's important to note that they are both theoretical concepts that we cannot actually observe directly - we always need to infer that they have occurred by observing an organism's behavior after the fact. Designing an assessment for your student, whether that student is a human or your best canine companion, requires some knowledge of what the organism's behavior should look like if learning has actually occurred. This is often harder than it looks!
Approaching learning and memory from both a neuroscientific and behavioral perspective has made me a more effective teacher as I think about how experience modifies the brain and influences our ability to learn and remember. I have written about some of the teaching methods I use to optimize learning for my students here:
Penner, M. R., Sathy, V., & Hogan, K. A. (2021). Inclusion in neuroscience through high impact courses. Neuroscience letters, 750, 135740.
Penner, M.R. (2018). Building an Inclusive Classroom. J Undergrad Neurosci Educ. 16: A268-A272.
I have taught a variety of classes over the past several years, from large 'gateway' classes such as Introduction to Neuroscience or Human Anatomy & Physiology, to smaller advanced classes such as Neurobiology of Learning & Memory or History of Neuroscience.
Below are some of my sample syllabi (click on the class name to access the syllabus for that class). Feel free to get in touch with me if you'd like more information or teaching materials - I am always happy to share!
Some of my work has been highlighted in the following publications (click on the title to see article):