Barbara Oakley

Professor of Engineering, Oakland University


Learning How to Learn–Insights from Research about How to Help Your Child Learn

If you want to know how to best help your child to learn, you need to know what research has revealed about the bottle-neck of working memory, the difference between biologically primary versus biological secondary material, and task-positive versus task-negative neural functioning.

Sound boring? It’s not! Professor of Engineering and linguist Barbara Oakley, is the instructor of Learning How to Learn (University of California-San Diego – Coursera), one of the world’s largest student massive open online course, with over two million students. In this presentation, she will show you how research from neuroscience can be used to help your child learn better.

• Learn why it’s perfectly normal for children to NOT understand something difficult the first time they encounter it—and what you can do to help children deal with the frustration.
• See what the patterns of expertise look like in the brain, and learn how to build those patterns more efficiently.
• Discover simple tools to tackle procrastination. (You might be surprised to learn that even just thinking about something you don’t like causes your brain to experience pain.)
• Learn the surprising advantages of having a bad memory and sometimes being a slower learner.


Barbara Oakley is a Professor of Engineering at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. Her work focuses on the complex relationship between neuroscience and social behavior. She teaches Coursera – UC San Diego’s “Learning How to Learn,” one of the world’s most popular massive open online course with two and a half million registered students. Barb is a New York Times best-selling author—her book Learning How to Learn, written with neuroscientist Terrence Sejnowski, is geared to give kids aged ten on up neuroscientific tools to help their learning. She is also a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.