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We are excited to announce that the University of Alabama College of Education will soon start offering a B.Sc. Major in Educational Neuroscience. The undergraduate program in educational neuroscience was approved by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education on September 15th and by The University of Alabama Board of Trustees on September 21st. The program will be the first of its kind in the world and will start enrolling students in the Fall 2020 semester.

Overview

Educational neuroscience is an emerging transdisciplinary field incorporating methods and perspectives from psychological and brain sciences, and education. Its principle goals are (1) to explore biological mechanisms that underlie learning and cognition, (2) to inquire how these mechanisms interact with individual and socio-cultural factors relevant to education, and (3) to develop evidence-based practices in teaching and designing learning environments.

Given its transdisciplinary nature educational neuroscience requires a foot in two worlds; psychological and brain sciences, and education. In 2014 The University of Alabama started a PhD Concentration in Education Neuroscience, under the Educational Psychology Program; one of the few PhD-level educational neuroscience programs in the world. Our goal with this program is to train researchers who are skilled and knowledgeable in methodologies and theoretical perspectives in both of the originating disciplines. With 17 PhD students and three core faculty (and an ongoing search for two new faculty members), the PhD concentration is thriving.  However, we not only need researchers but also teachers, administrators and policy-makers with a transdisciplinary training in educational neuroscience. We have developed the undergraduate major to respond to this need.

Program

The undergraduate program curriculum provides a strong scientific foundation in the first two years, with a curriculum including foundational courses in biology, physics, chemistry, and mathematics, in addition to introductory level courses in education. On top of these, there are more advanced courses providing different perspectives, such as psychological, philosophical, biological, anthropological, on learning and cognition. In the curriculum we also have eight new courses unique to this program. These include methods courses (e.g., neuroimaging, electrophysiology), and domain-specific courses that bring students up-to-date with the current state of educational neuroscience research in relevant domains (e.g., science and mathematics learning, reading, language development, ethical development, and cognitive and behavioral disorders). Finally, the program presents the students with many opportunities to participate in research projects, starting with their first semester. In their junior and senior years students take a lab practicum course every semester, where they will work on an independent research project with their advisor. This will build on students’ experiences working on different projects in their first two years and will help them develop independent research skills.

Armed with an extensive theoretical foundation and strong research skills, graduates of this program will have the chance to pursue different trajectories post-graduation. We expect some of our students to continue graduate studies either in educational neuroscience or in other related fields, while others moving into the field as teachers, administrators, or policy-makers. The students will also have the option to spend an extra year to acquire teaching certification in a domain of interest (e.g., STEM, reading, or language education).

The new courses that will be offered under the educational neuroscience program will also be available to students in other programs in the College of Education and across the campus. We are particularly interested in enhancing neuroscience literacy and overall scientific preparedness in our teacher education programs.

Overall, we are very excited to have the opportunity to build a one of a kind program at UA, with the potential to train educational researchers and practitioners with a strong scientific foundation and a unique toolset to approach educational problems. You can contact Dr. Firat Soylu (fsoylu@ua.edu) with inquiries and questions about the program.

Curriculum

YEAR 1
Semester 1
Course Number/Name Credits
PY 101 Intro To Psychology 3
EN 101 English Composition 3
PH 101 General Physics I 4
BSC 108 Intro Biology Non Maj I 4
MATH 125 Calculus I 4
Semester 2
HD 101 Life Span Human Development 3
ANT 100 Intro To Anthropology 3
EN 102 English Composition 3
BSC 109 Intro Biology Non Maj II 4
MATH 126 Calculus II 4
YEAR 2
Semester 1
BEP 110 Intro Learning Strategy Skills 3
HD 205 Child Devel-Preschool 3
PHL 100 Intro To Philosophy 3
SPE 100 Exceptional Lives in Society 3
CH 101 General Chemistry 4
BSC 215 Human Anatomy & Physiology I 4
Semester 2
BEP 305  Educational Psychology 3
CH 102 General Chemistry 4
BSC 220 Biological Evolution 3
PHL 260 Mind and Nature 3
-Elective 1- 3
YEAR 3
Semester 1
BEP 310 Lab-based Research Practicum 2
PY 352 Developmental Psych 3
BEP 350 Experimental Methods in Educational Neuroscience 3
BEP 360 Social Psych Foundtns Educ 3
BEP 345 Educational Statistics 3
Semester 2
BEP 310 Lab-based Research Practicum 2
PY 313 Sensation and Perception 3
BEP 320 Brain, Learning, and Cognition 3
BEP 330 Computational Methods in Educational Neuroscience 3
-Elective 2- 3
YEAR 4
Semester 1
BEP 310 Lab-based Research Practicum 2
BEP 410  Topics in Ed Neuro: Math Learning 3
PY 450 Intro Cognitive Psych 3
BEP 460 Topics in Ed Neuro: Reading, Language, and the Brain 3
BEP 490  Electrophysiology 4
Semester 2
BEP 310 Lab-based Research Practicum 2
BEP 420 Topics in Ed Neuro: Science Learning 3
BEP 450 Topics in Ed Neuro: Moral Psych & Ethical Devel 3
BEP 480 Human Brain Mapping 4
-Elective 3- 3
Total Credits 129

Faculty

Dr. Hyemin Han

Assistant Professor, Educational Psychology/Neuroscience
hyemin.han@ua.edu
205-348-0746
website

Dr. Laura Morett

Assistant Professor, Educational Psychology/Neuroscience
lmorett@ua.edu
205-348-8489
website

Dr. Firat Soylu

Assistant Professor, Educational Psychology/Neuroscience
fsoylu@ua.edu
205-348-6267
website

Dr. Stephen Thoma

Professor, Educational Psychology/Neuroscience
sthoma@ua.edu
205-348-8146
website