Neuroscience and Information Processing

Our focus this week in my course at Walden has been on Neuroscience and Information Processing. Picture4Emphasis was placed on the brain’s functions during different parts of the learning process, including cognitive information processing, information retrieval, and problem solving. This posts will focus on two resources that provides further information on Brain-Based learning, i.e. learning that is based on studies on how the brain works, and information processing.

Brain-Based Learning with Technological Support

In this article Dr. Anita Miller (2005) provided findings from her research on brain-based learning in a secondary high school. The theoretical framework for Miller’s study was Caine and Caine (1994) who suggests the brain has in inexhaustible capacity to learn; Gardner (1999) who established the concept of multiple intelligence and Nunley (2001) whose researcher resulted in the creation of the layered curriculum. Miller’s research subjects were six teachers whose specialties were History, French, Information Systems, Health Education, Physics and Graphics/CAD/Manufacturing. She collected data through observation, interviews and the use of a checklist.

Miller’s research suggests that schools must facilitate brain-based learning through learner-centered environments where students can actively engage in the learning process. She further notes that the teacher in these environments are actively supporting the students by giving feedback, providing direction, providing guidance in collaborative  problem solving and answering questions. Miller’s research goes further to identify the problems faced in such an environment.

Miller and I share similar views on where teaching and education should be heading. Miller believes that the traditional teaching methods such as lectures have very little place in the modern classroom. She believes learning in the modern classroom should take a more constructivist approach thus allowing the learners to play an active role in learning, building, understanding and making sense of information and reality. If you are considering brain-based learning in your teaching environment, this article will provide details on the requirements to make it happen.

Information Processing Theory

In this Education.com article, Gregory Schraw and Matthew McCrudden (2013) explores the theory of information processing. Schraw and McCrudden provides detailed information on the three components of the Information Processing Model (IPM): sensory memory, working memory and long term memory. They show the relationship between these three components and how information passes from one component to the next.

They highlight 4 implications of IPM on instruction, these include the important of automaticity in the learning process. They also suggest that having relevant prior knowledge facilitates encoding and retrieval processes.

Interestingly, this article about information processing takes some time for your brain to process! However the information has a solid theoretical background and does provide useful information for anyone who wants more information on this theory.

Bonus resource…..

I also found this little gem that is useful to the information hungry learner.

Brain World Magazine

This magazine is totally dedicated to the brain. The publishers believe that neuroscience is the next great scientific frontier. The magazine explores cutting-edge science and the effect of the findings on education, global issues, human health, culture and other issues.

Have a great week and happy learning!

References

Brain World Magazine. (n.d.). Retrieved from Brain World Magazine: http://brainworldmagazine.com/

Miller, A. (2005). Brain-Based Learning With Technological Support. In P. Kommers, & G. Richards (Ed.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Media and Technology 2005 (pp. 2486-2491). Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved May 16, 2015, from the Walden Library Databases

Schraw, G., & McCrudden, M. (2013, July 12). Information Processing Theory. Retrieved May 18, 2015, from Education.com: http://www.education.com/reference/article/information-processing-theory/

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3 thoughts on “Neuroscience and Information Processing

  1. I also agree that the traditional approach to learning in a formal classroom, reading assignments, lectures, and homework assignments are ineffective. Before the emergence of new technologies to promote more interactive modes of instruction there might have been few alternatives to lecture based instruction, but surely that cannot be used as an excuse now.Yet, many classrooms are still conforming to the lecture based learning environment. Why do you think this method persists despite evidence that it is not effective? Here are some of my thoughts.
    I was a guest lecturer at a large university and observed that many of the classrooms were designed to hold 50 to 150 students with stadium style seating. In such an environment, it is hard to imagine active learning (I know I often slept in that type of class as a student).
    Also, I think it is easier on the surface to rehash the same lectures every term. I have even heard of a professor who still uses his old slides.
    Finally, Technology Acceptance Theory or TAM may help to explain the persistence of lectures in classrooms.

    What are your thoughts?

    Like

    • Thanks for the question!

      I believe many times the insistence to teach using these older methods stem from the fact that the teacher is uncomfortable with utilizing other methods and sadly, in my experience, sometimes they really don’t understand the topic enough themselves to venture in the unknown. A collegue of mine who teaches mathematics told me of an encounter he had with a student. The student was distressed, he was just getting to understand simultaneous equations and truly thought he had the concept. Went to school got a problem wrong and couldn’t figure out what he did wrong. It turns out the student did nothing wrong, his answer was actually correct. Unfortunately, the teacher copied the answer from a book that actually had the wrong answer. The teacher herself had no clue it was wrong and insisted the answer was correct. I don’t see this teacher taking on guided discovery, she would have no clue what to do if something goes wrong. In fact she might not even know it went wrong.

      Research such as Miller’s hopefully will help to prepare more teachers to step out and seek new ways to engage their students. Sadly, there is no “cure” for those who are earning a pay check but are not truly masters of their subject area.

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  2. Learning centers have long been used within modern classrooms, Dr. Miller fresh approach to how it can be used is quite interesting. Most learning centers that I have come across are mainly used for displaying information as oppose to from a constructive pointed of view.

    Like

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