Sunday, June 7, 2009

Applying Information Processing Theory to Teaching

Applying Information Processing Theory to Teaching

By Lisa Pratt
EDI 600 Psychological Foundation of Education
School of Education
Long Island University, C. W. Post
June 1, 2009

Ni Hao and Zai Jian!

Class 5 was filled with ideas that served a dual purpose: they were used to illustrate the theory of information-processing and could also be implemented into the curriculum of an elementary school class. As always, Dr. Boyanton broadened our knowledge base by teaching us several common Chinese words and expressions. Instead of telling us the words and asking us to memorize them, she linked the Chinese words to English words we were familiar with and injected her usual enthusiasm and charm to help us bridge this new info to prior information. This exercise effectively modeled how students obtain, store and recall information.

I was intrigued by the concept of chunk size; the amount of information that a person can take in at one time. We know that we have to grab a student’s attention in order to teach them effectively, however, we now know that in order to hold their attention and maximize learning it is imperative to gauge their level of prior information before introducing a new concept. If we encounter students who look confused or overwhelmed, we can reassure them by linking the new material to something that they learned earlier, which will bolster their confidence. These techniques are helpful in elementary education and can act as the cornerstones of secondary learning as well. The earlier students learn to link their knowledge the better foundation will be built for future learning.

Sometimes a child does not realize they know a concept until they hear a relatable example of it. There are a number of ways of accomplishing this: Teaching in small groups can help students transfer information from short term memory to long term memory by linking what they are learning to something they already know. Peer tutoring is another way to increase efficacy in information processing. Memory games, an elementary school staple, can also go a long way in helping students remember words or pictures. They can be played within a group or alone and are an excellent way to increase attention span.

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