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10 Minute Teacher Podcast with Cool Cat Teacher

Produced by Vicki Davis, Cool Cat Teacher, LLC

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Mar 31, 2022

Surprise can increase learning and change the lives of our students in positive ways. Today’s guest researcher, Dr. Michael Rousell, studies the neuroscience of surprise and has some interesting points for educators and presenters. 

The Johns Hopkins’ article,  The Element of Surprise Helps Babies Learn Significantly Better, points to a phenomenon that impacts all ages. For example, if you’ve played peekaboo with a baby, you know the surprise is what makes them laugh. Interestingly, researchers found that once babies saw something that surprised them, their engagement with the object peaked their learning behavior which improved significantly compared to a baby who was not surprised.  

So they found that babies who were shown surprising events were able to learn faster and more efficiently afterward than those who were not.

Today we will discuss how surprise applies to learning.

Show Notes and Transcript: 

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Dr. Michael Rousell - Bio as Submitted

I’m a teacher, associate professor, psychologist, and author.  I taught at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. As an academic, I study formative moments, those events that instantly change what you believe about yourself.  My next book is titled, The Power of Surprise: How Our Brain Secretly Changes Our Beliefs, (not yet published).  My slogan: Whoever learns the most wins. You can see my recent TEDxSalem talk at


Twitter: @rousellm