First Advisor

Joshua Eastin

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Science and University Honors




Metacognition in children, Educational equalization, Neuroplasticity, Low-income students, Psychic trauma in children, Khan Academy




Emerging understandings from neuroscience and cognitive research on human learning indicate that nearly all people can learn, and that we can do so throughout our lifetimes. Simultaneously, public health research from the late 1990s identified Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). This research connected ACEs to incidence of factors impacting children’s development (including cognitive and educational) and possible long-term impairments to life outcomes. Incidence of impact factors is correlated with effects of poverty and socioeconomic status, especially as the experiences of poverty can create neural stress impacts similar as those resulting from ACEs. Specific insights from ACEs-related research identifies developmental impacts to attention, behavior, comprehension of mathematics and reading. However, our brains possess neuroplasticity, meaning we can create new neural pathways from input and stimulus. Understanding trauma’s impacts in light of the brain’s capacity to create new patterns, and helps educators develop possible educational approaches to a range of educational concerns. These concerns include classroom behavior issues, learning progress, and engagement with healthy social spheres. Many best practices exist for trauma-informed and poverty-impacted learning settings which focus on supporting protective factors and on supporting the mitigation of risk factors in a learner’s life, and often include fostering development of a learner’s executive functions. This paper delves into much-studied areas where deleterious conditions persist, and emphasizes the approaches of metacognition (thinking about one’s own thinking, learning about one’s own learning) and transparency, while considering the educational future taking shape now with large, swift global technological changes in learning. This paper is a qualitative literature review considering education and learning for trauma and poverty affected learners (K-12, predominantly). This paper argues that education justice for all learners requires more cohesive application of techniques to teach all learners, specifically an increase in the use and application of metacognitive tools and transparent practices. Also considered are aspects of emerging education trends like globally connected learning, universal learning goals, blended learning and the flipped classroom, alongside questions of education justice and Khan Academy. Contained is an additional review of Khan Academy as an example of such a learning model which may represent part of the future of education.


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