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Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Patricia Perry


This thesis attempts to reclaim the imagination, defined by Ann Berthoff as the "name for the active mind," by looking at brain biology as it relates to teaching and learning. The section titled "Keeping Biology in Mind: The Brain as Speculative Instrument" demonstrates how biological naturalism, a philosophy developed by John Searle, validates the concept of an ontologically subjective "I" and hence the creation of course materials based on David Kolb's experiential-learning model. In addition, it discusses how biologist James Zull maps the actual structure of the brain onto Kolb's model. Adding to this bottom-up theory of learning that emphasizes brain biology and subjective experience, this thesis discusses how the mind, through mental force, works in a top-down fashion to change the brain, and suggests that students can learn to take control of their own learning by applying mental force. The section titled "Keeping Affect in Mind: The Biology of Intuition" presents the aspect of affect known as intuition and how it fits into the discussion. The main premise of this thesis is that we can employ concepts of the brain and learning in the composition classroom to facilitate the teaching and learning of writing. The last section titled "Keeping Composition in Mind: Theory into Practice" is devoted to this premise on a practical level.


Part of Retrospective ETD Collection, restricted to VCU only.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008