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COLL 1000 College Success and Survival Skills 2/6/14 Learning Principles How the Brain works—or doesn't?. Mike “Wheels” Breakey , MA. Quote of the Day. We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves . ~Buddha

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COLL 1000College Success and Survival Skills2/6/14Learning PrinciplesHow the Brain works—or doesn't?

Mike “Wheels” Breakey, MA

Quote of the day
Quote of the Day

  • We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves. ~Buddha

  • If you don't design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much. ~Jim Rohn

Words of the day
Words of the Day

  • Optimism

  • A tendency to expect the best possible outcome or dwell on the most hopeful aspects of a situation

  • Does this play into learning?

  • Epistemology

  • The branch of philosophy that studies the origin, nature, methods, validity, and limits of human knowledge

  • Philosophy

  • Literally means—Philos-Love Sophia-Knowledge


  • How does it happen?

  • How did you learn to drive?

The big ten

  • Interest

  • Intent ( I want to remember)

  • Basic Background (Constructivism)

  • Selectivity (importance—to you)

  • Organize (ever had too many ideas)

  • Recite (book says verbal—any other ways?)

  • Visualize (mental picture) (Ever close your eyes when trying to remember something on a quiz?)

  • Associate (Constructivism again) (string on finger?)

  • Consolidate (STM, WM, and LTM)

  • Practice (study, review)

  • Short Term Memory

  • Lasts up to several minutes

  • 7 +/- 2components

  • AKA Working Memory

  • Scratch Pad

  • Transfers to Long Term with Effort

  • Long Term Memory

  • Lasts a lifetime*

  • Different types

Declarative Memory

Non-Declarative Memory

  • Procedural

  • Skills and habits

  • Emotional responses

  • Priming

  • Semantic

  • Facts

  • Figures

  • Episodic

  • Events

  • Times


  • Long term memories are changes in the brain

  • Recalling memories changes the content of the memory

    • Family vacation example

  • Memories are, literally, structures in the brain

Something you memorized years ago but still remember
Something you memorized years ago but still remember

  • Boy Scout Oath

  • A saying

  • An old phone number or address

A few myths
A Few Myths

  • We only use 10% of our brains

    • No, we use 100%, just not all at once. The brain is always active.

  • You can learn through subliminal messages

    • No conclusive evidence yet

  • Brain damage is permanent

    • The brain can re-wire itself

  • Alcohol kills brain cells

    • It can damage the dendrites causing less communication between neurons and other disorders, but not kill the cells

    • Freeman (2008)



New Memories


  • How do we perceive information from our world?

  • Which of the 5 senses is dominant?

This image “The Enigma” is by IsiaLeviant (1984).

White's effect

Contrast of lightness

What are your biases
What are your biases?


What are your biases1
What are your biases?


What does all this have with learning
What does all this have with learning?

  • Changing perceptions changes beliefs (learning).

    • Why?

  • Learning is constructive—it build upon past experiences

  • If those experiences are biased (or ignored) it affects learning

    • It’s only OR Adrift on the ocean of life

  • Mental maturity and learning

    • I can learn from others not I KNOW IT ALL

    • Others can learn from me not I HAVE NOTHING TO ADD

Metacognitive mental maturity

Metacognitive(Mental) Maturity

Four principle areas of personal epistemology
Four principle areas of personal epistemology

  • Simplicity of knowledge

  • Fixed nature of knowledge

  • Quickness of knowing

  • Certainty of knowledge

Simple knowledge
Simple Knowledge

  • Immature

    • Contents are complete, cannot look outside the box for answers

    • What is learned in one class cannot be applied to other courses

  • Mature

    • Knowledge is made up of discrete parts that can be mixed and matched to make up more complex bits of knowledge

Fixed knowledge
Fixed Knowledge

  • Immature

    • “I was born dumb, and dumb I’ll stay!”

  • Mature

    • Genetics make up only some of my abilities, I can do this and I can get smarter.

Quick knowledge
Quick Knowledge

  • Immature

    • “If I don’t get it the first time, I just won’t get it.”

  • Mature

    • Learning is hard work and persistence pays off!

    • It is possible to learn to learn

Certain knowledge
Certain Knowledge

  • Immature

    • There is one truth

    • We can find that truth

  • Mature

    • Truth is sometimes ambiguous

    • Things change

    • Truth is complex

How mature is your personal epistemology
How mature is your personal epistemology?

  • Just remember

    • Knowledge is complex

    • Your intelligence is malleable

    • Study pays off

    • There is often more than one right answer


  • Can understanding how the brain works help explain bias or prejudicial thinking?

Next tuesday
Next Tuesday

  • Multitasking Worksheet

  • Chapter 6: Processing Information from Lectures

  • Communication discussion

  • NOT in the syllabus but think about what tips and techniques work for you—school, work, family.