Information processing approach- a perspective on cognition and cognitive development in
which the human mind is likened to a computer, processing information from the environment
through perception and attention (input), encoding it in memory (storage and retrieval), and
applying information to the solution of problems (software).
A primary quality of human cognition system is flexibility. However, two main limitations:
amount of info that can be processed at one time and the speed of processing info. Computer can
process info much faster than human mind, but computer has singular design and solves only
specific types of problems in specific programmed way, human mind is more flexible and
considers broad ranges of factors, which is why it takes much longer. Overall human mind has
lots of potential.
Four basic assumptions about info processing (Siegler and Alibali): 1. Thinking is info
processing- mental activity involves taking in info to mind and operating on it to make it usable.
Questions about attention and memory and how it changes with age are the main concepts of this
assumption. 2. Mechanisms/processes of change that underlie the processing of information-
children getting better at encoding info is a mechanism and helps solve problems better. 4 key
mechanisms of info processing are encoding, strategy construction, automatization, and
generalization. 3. Cognitive development is self modifying process- child uses strategies from
earlier problem solutions to modify responses to new problems. 4. Careful task analysis is
analysis- a very detailed examination of how a child solves a problem over a single learning
episode or over several episodes that occur close in time.
3 Info processing Models and approaches:
Multi-store model- a model of info processing in which info is depicted as moving through a
series of processing units-sensory register, short term memory, and long term memory-in each of
which it may be stored, either fleetingly or permanently.
Sensory register- the mental processing unit that receives info from the environment and stores it
fleetingly. This is the first step and info stored in raw form (visually, aurally and very briefly/1
second, stays the same through age except for auditory sensory storage across infancy/childhood)
Short term memory/working memory- the mental processing unit in which info may be stored
WHPSRUDULO\WKH³ZRUNVSDFH´RIWKHPLQGZKHUHDGHFLVLRQPXVWEHPDGHWRGLVFDUGLQIo or to
transfer it to permanent storage in long term memory. It is the second step in which info is
transformed/encoded into a mental representation in storage. Without rehearsal or effort, this info
is lost in 15-30 seconds. Faster rehearsal with age= more storage.
Long term memory- The mental processing unit in which information (about objects, events,
rules, types of problems and ways to solve them) may be stored permanently and from which it
may later be retrieved. Stores all strategies too. Memory improves with age- you can pronounce
more words faster and remember more words as you get older.
Connectionist Models- info processing approaches that describe mental processes in terms of the
interconnections of the neural network. These models emphasize biological components of info
processing (Neural Networks). info is described as elaborate set of neural connections and
thinking is processing the info as it spreads throughout the network. (this is also called parallel
neo-Piagetian theories- theories of cognitive development that reinterpret Piaget's concepts from
an info processing perspective. involves the two features of info processing: improvements in
memory capacity and executive control.
executive control structure (ECS)- according to Case, a mental blueprint or plan for solving a
class of problems. Has three components: a representation of the problem, a representation of the
goal of the problem, and representation of strategy for attaining the goal.
examples- sensorimotor control structures (0-1.5yrs) ECS is a combo of physical objects and
motor actions, a child makes a mental representations (sensory) linked with physical movements
Rational control structures (1.5-5yrs) involves concrete mental images and representations of
knowledge and acting on it, ECS now includes cause and effect statements and explicit goal
structures. Child may remember a scary face from before (representation) and then draw it (act on
Dimensional Control Structures (5-11yrs) involves dimensions, logical processing, abstract
representation and acting on it with simple transformations. A child may realize two friends don't
like each other (abstract representation) then tell them if they were friends problems would be
solved (simple transformation).
Abstract control structures (11-18.5yrs) builds on the DCS and and perform higher order
reasoning tasks and more complex transformations, child realizes direct friendships is too rare
(abstract representation) so design activities indirectly to cause friendships (complex
Cognitive processes- ways that the human mental system operates on information. focuses on
gradual and quantitative changes in mental functioning. 4 critical processes for development of
info processing system.
1.Encoding- the transformation of info from the environment into a lasting mental representation.
Mental Representation- info stored in some form (verbal, pictorial) in the cognitive system after
the person has encountered it in the environment. Scripts represents a series of events based on
common daily experiences, and used to understand new events and generate predictions about
how they will unfold.
2.Strategies- conscious, cognitive or behavioural activities that are used to enhance mental
performance. Examples- counting strategies like the count-all rule: where you answer 3+14 by
starting with 3 and counting 14 more to reach 17, or the more efficient min rule- where you start
with 14, the larger number to reach 17 faster.
3. Automatization- the process of transforming conscious, controlled behaviours into unconscious
and automatic ones. (learning to drive a manual car, or multiplication tables)
4. Generalization- the application of a strategy learned while solving a problem in one situation to
a similar problem in a new situation.
Executive control process- a cognitive process that serves to control, guide, and monitor the
success of a problem solving approach a child uses. (changes in prefrontal cortex from age 3-12
are crucial for ECP development)