Chapter 6

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McGill University
Ed Psych & Couns (Psychology)
EDPE 300
Camelia Birlean

6: LEARNING AND COGNITIVE PROCESSES Basic Assumptions of Cognitive Psychology  cognitive psychology: a theoretical perspective that focuses on the mental processes underlying human learning and behaviour  cognitive processes influence the nature of what is learned o learning = internal, mental phenomenon o how people think about & interpret experiences affects what they learn o information processing theory: a theoretical perspective that focuses on the specific ways in which individuals mentally think about 7 process the information they receive  students are selective about what they process and learn o focus on what is important, ignore the rest  meaning is constructed by the learner, rather than being derived directly from the environment o construction: a mental process in which a learner takes many separate pieces of information and uses them to build an overall understanding or interpretation of an event o constructivism: a theoretical perspective that proposes that learners construct a body of knowledge from their experiences – knowledge that may or may not be an accurate representation of external reality  prior knowledge and beliefs play a major role in the meanings that people construct  students are actively involved in their own learning Basic Terminology in Cognitive Psychology  memory: a learner’s ability to save something (mentally) that they have previously learned, or the mental location where such information is saved  storage: the process of putting new information into memory  encoding: changing the format of new information as it is being sorted in memory  retrieval: the process of finding information previously stored in memory A Model of Human Memory  3 components: sensory register, working (short-term) memory & long term memory  sensory register  working memory  long term memory  working memory A Nature of the Sensory Register  sensory register: a component of memory that holds incoming information in an analyzed form for a very brief period of time  everything you are able to see, hear, sense stored here (large capacity) Moving Information to Working Memory: The Role of Attention  attention: the focusing of mental processes on particular environmental stimuli  what you pay attention to goes into working memory, what you don’t disappears from memory system  attention has limited capacity (cocktail party phenomenon)  very small amount of information moves from sensory register to the working memory  attention in the classroom o attention = behaviour & mental process o ask questions that test students’ understanding of ideas o ask students to put new information to use o encourage older students to take notes  reconstruction: creating notes from classes or other events in own words without consulting original notes & then revising them or comparing them with others’ notes for an enhanced learning experience o have students make up questions about class content/readings (learning cell) The Nature of Working (Short-Term) Memory  working memory: a component of memory that holds and processes a limited amount of information; duration of information stored is probably about 5-20 seconds  also where thinking & cognitive processes occur  does the most work on the memory system  2 characteristics worth noting: short duration & limited capacity The Nature of Long-Term Memory  long-term memory: the component of memory that holds knowledge and skills for a relatively long period of time  3 characteristics worth noting: long duration, unlimited capacity, rich network of interconnections  long duration o some believe information may weaken & disappear if not used regularly o others believe once in long term memory it stays there permanently but may be difficult to retrieve  unlimited capacity o the more information stored in long term memory the easier it is to learn new things  interconnectedness o information stored is organized & interconnected o quality of concept links: in a concept map, pairs of concepts can be more or less strongly linked & the description of the link can be more or less complete & detailed Critiquing the Three-Component Model  are there 3 separate components to memory?  are the component as distinctly different from one another as described?  proposed working & long term memory not separate but reflect different activation (degree to which a particular piece of information in memory is currently being attended to & mentally processed) states of a single memory o active information = in working memory o inactive information = in long term memory Long Term Memory Storage  various forms of knowledge o declarative knowledge: knowledge related to ‘what is’ to the nature of how things are, were or will be ie/ verbal, imagery, semantically (underlying meanings  the gist of the message) o procedural knowledge: knowledge concerning how to do something o information encoded in many ways easier to retrieve than information encoded in one way How Declarative Knowledge is Learned  rehearsal o rehearsal: a cognitive process in which information is repeated over and over as a possible way of learning & remembering it; when it is used to maintain information in working memory, it is called maintenance rehearsal o disadvantage: make few connections between new information & knowledge in long term memory o rote learning: learning information primarily through verbatim repetition, without attaching any meaning to it
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