Posts Tagged ‘cognition’

Digital Information Everywhere: But it Doesn’t Change How We Educate Learners! Should it?!

In critical thinking, how people learn, information literacy, innovation in teaching on April 4, 2012 at 10:42 pm

directions_signInformation is everywhere and we should help students learn how to access and evaluate it. Education isn’t about going to school to get the information. Learning occurs with experiential activities, developing student activities and embracing failure as a way to learn.

I learned some concepts best when I answered them wrong on a test and got feedback quickly enough so that I could clearly follow where I went wrong. If we’re going to improve learning, as the video author states, we must refocus on how we encourage learning. Educators and institutions must re-evaluate the role of tests in promoting student learning and promoting cognition. Tests are not always the best way to foster improved learning. I believe tests are one tool, but there are many other tools to encourage authentic learning.

Because information is everywhere, we must also provide learners with the tools to evaluate information. The ALA defines information literacy as

“a set of abilities requiring individuals to “recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.”

So students must know more than the textbook or teacher as the source of information, but instead must be able to read any source and conduct an target_and_arrow_missedanalysis of the credibility of the content. Institutions must develop methods to encourage the pedagogy of authenticity and of failure in order to learn. I’ve discussed the benefits of failure to improve learning in this post. I’ve discussed the need to teach information literacy in this post.

I’d love to implement and assess some version of this. That’s my next project, possibly, after I finish the Twitter and ePortfolio activities.

It’s (Wo)man vs. Machine: (Wo)man Wins!

In how people learn on February 27, 2012 at 5:52 pm

We’re now learning that regions cannot be associated with a singular function (i.e. the frontal cortex as “the place where personality occurs”). The brain is not a storage dump, and consciousness is not a place. Synapses are also far more Braincomplex than electrical circuits. Neither processing speed nor short term memory capacity are fixed, whereas RAM is.

[from The Electronic Brain? Your Mind Vs a Computer]

In the above-referenced blog post, Megan Erickson reports on more current research that calls into question the idea of a compartmentalized brain.Erickson summarizes the points made by a cognitive neuroscience. The gist of the summary was that our brain is so complicated that there can be no analogy (yet) to a computer, in part because we are not aware of the distinct individual processes that if combined explain how the brain functions.

I am neither a scientist nor a doctor. But I had believed the theory that the brain is a machine similar to the computer; that certainThinking areas of the brain perform certain functions and that the synapses were similar to electric circuits. At the same time, I thought it was not a complete picture of the brain–just as our bodies can adapt; sometimes when you lose hearing, your eyesight becomes clearer, I still thought the theory that the brain was divided into certain functioning parts made sense. And what about the idea of left brained and right brained folks? It all made sense, in a simplistic sort of way.

What was I thinking?

I can’t wait to have the discussion about whether Data is a sentient being!

Thinking About Thinking..I’m Tired Already

In how people learn, teaching, test anxiety on February 19, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Have you ever focused on something so much that time seemed to stand still? And when you finished, you looked up and a great deal of time had passed?That’s happened when I’ve had a good meditation session or when I’m reading or writing something that requires a great deal of thought.

According to Margaret Moore, (as quoted in this article: Life’s Messy. Train Your Brain to Adapt) co-director of the Institute of Coaching,

“When you can focus all of your brain on one thing, that’s when you’re at your best…”You’re integrating all your brain. But it also consumes a huge amount of resources. You get tired. That’s really how the brain learns—when the brain is learning, it’s laying down new networks. The brain is changing when we focus. It takes a lot of energy, and when it’s depleted it isn’t able to manage the emotional brain. When your pre frontal cortex is depleted, your emotions rule all day”

In the Life’s Messy article, the author summarizes Moore’s approach by describing stress as a positive and strong emotion that is not always negative, but that can be used to help re-train the brain toBrain think and to try to bring order and organization from chaos. Moore recommends that we use stress to ask ourselves questions that could lead to re-organization. She gives the example of question such as “‘is this an error message? Or is this something I really need to pay attention to?’” Moore continues by proposing that we can re-train our brains by building willpower, motivation and confidence.

So Test Anxiety s a Good Thing?

So what does that mean? As a teacher, certain situations create more stress for students than others. Tests, especially the traditional closed-book, closed notes tests, create a great deal of stress for students. So, is this author suggesting that those stressful test situations are good? Apparently, it is the body’s way of getting attention and to the extent that that attention can be properly focused (i.e. to prepare properly), then perhaps test anxiety isn’t all bad. The key is to assist test takers to focus that stress on productive study techniques.

Or does all that concentrating just wear us out (but that’s a good thing, because we do our best work when we focus….and experience stress)?!