Details for Brain Development from a 21st Century Perspective

The purpose of this subject is to provide students with an introduction to the field of educational neuroscience.  It explores the brains structure, development and functions and investigates how we can apply this understanding to support optimal learning and wellbeing. This subject considers the factors that influence brain development and functioning and evidence-based theory and research on the brain and learning.

Note: Previous subject code CRS115.

Quick Info

  • Currently offered by Alphacrucis: Yes
  • Course code: EDU115
  • Credit points: 10
  • Subject coordinator: Philip Fitzsimmons


The following courses are prerequisites:

Awards offering Brain Development from a 21st Century Perspective

This unit is offered as a part of the following awards:

Unit Content


  1. Describe brain architecture and brain development and summarise in detail factors that shape the developing brain in terms of plasticity Articulate an understanding of the physical and functional aspects of the brain, including neuroplasticity, and the implications for learning and teaching
  2. Explore the impact of biological, environmental, social and psychological factors on brain development and optimal functioning.
  3. Explain how the brain responds to various stimuli, stressors, and environmental factors, enabling teachers to create optimal conditions for learning and emotional regulation in the classroom.
  4. Reflect on how evidenced-based neuroscience theory can inform and enhance teaching and learning.

Subject Content

  1. Structures of the brain– Brain Architecture and Brain Development:
  • Describe the brain structures and the key stages and in pre- and postnatal brain development.
  • Explain and describe the pre- and postnatal brain ‘shaping’ processes related to optimal brain functionality and how experiences and natural processes such as plasticity also shape the developing brain.
  • Order of developmental ages and stages in terms of brain functionality.
  • Identify the age at which the brain reaches maturity.
  • Explain how brain development is related to ‘happiness’ and ‘flourishing’
  1. Gene signatures-How genes and environment interactions shape brain architecture GENE SIGNATURES:
  • Formulate a basic definition for epigenetic change.
  • Identify key developmental experiences that produces epigenetic change.
  • Outcomes associated with the quality of parental care that are associated with epigenetic changes, ‘happiness’ and ‘flourishing’.
  • Provide one example of how early experiences can buffer genetic influences.
  1. Toxic stress: How early life stresses shapes brain architecture:
  • Identify two brain structures involved in the stress response system.
  • Identify different types of stress hormones and describe the roles of each in orchestrating the body’s response to threats.
  • Describe the different types of stress and classify different types of stressful events into each category.
  • Describe the ways the brain and body adapt to toxic stress that can produce vulnerability to later health outcomes.
  1. PERMA and Positive Psychology:
  • What is positive psychology?
  • How social interactions and relationships shape brain development:
  • The importance of social interactions in healthy brain development.
  • How social competencies and temperaments influence child behaviour and outcomes.
  • The concept of ‘Flow’.
  1. Stages of physical and cognitive development and factors that shape and influence this development, including diet and lifestyle; puberty:
  • Explain biology of brain development; emerging sexuality; emerging spirituality.
  • Explain the effect of puberty and adolescence: rites of passage, cultural markers, gender and sexuality in culturally diverse backgrounds, ‘flourishing’.

      6-7. Psychosocial development:

  • Identify the stages of development.
  • Explain the development of prosocial behaviours, strategies to encourage self-regulation behaviours in the classroom and playground and ways to address bullying.
  • Discuss the implications of child and adolescent development, well-being and mental health for lifelong learning and the management of behaviour for optimal engagement with society.
  1. The importance of building executive functions:
  • Discuss behavioural examples of key skills involved in executive function.
  • Describe serve and return interactions and building executive function skills.
  • Explain toxic stress and how it interferes with the development of executive function skills.
  • Outline activities and interventions that help build executive function skills.

This course may be offered in the following formats

  • Face-to-Face
  • eLearning (online)

Please consult your course prospectus or enquire about how and when this course will be offered next at Alphacrucis University College.

Assessment Methods

  • Multiple Choice Exam (25%)
  • Literature Review and Outline + Minor Essay (50%)
  • Reflective Learning Journal (25%)

Prescribed Text

  • References will include the most current curriculum requirements for schools.

Check with the instructor each semester before purchasing any prescribed texts or representative references.