From neurons to teaching efficiency …..and to your job. Helen Abadzi Education for All Fast Track Initiative (c/o World Bank) March 18, 2011. For the University of Michigan. Smart domains of knowledge for you to study. International agencies are deluged with CVs
From neurons to teaching efficiency …..and to your job
Education for All Fast Track Initiative
(c/o World Bank)
March 18, 2011
For the University of Michigan
The lecture will give you a sample
Knowledge taught in school must go through:
Short term memory limitations
Encoding through “rules” of cognitive networks
consolidation into long-term memory
Education modifies brain architecture
As a result of school work:
certain proteins are made for permanent storage
New axons and dendrites created
Connecting parts of the brain that were not earlier connected
Neuron synapses open and close in milliseconds
Knowledge is stored in neuron assemblies
Neuron assemblies connect in spatio-temporal patterns to store information
Feedback is needed for modification
Your mind contains these kinds of
We can talk about it
Vocational skills, computer use,
Imitating conscious or unconscious movements (buttoning shirt)
Knowledge encoded in movements
Valuing certain knowledge
Showing up on time
Carrying out obligations
noises deemed ordinary
Short-term memory capacity
Why speed is needed for comprehension
12 seconds at most
About 7 items
semantic memory !
Practice shortens reaction time, we do things without much attention:
Vocationally related skills
Gas chromatograph, computer operation, etc.
Time, materials, homework must be used to bring about fluency
So what is the most important goal in beginning literacy?
Animals are set up to pay attention mainly to changes in the environment.
The ‘default’ state is inattentiveness
Attention requires conscious control
Control develops throughout childhood
Perhaps adding roughly a minute per year of age
Being called on by a teacher influences performance
Reinforcement on a ‘variable ratio’ maintains attention best (B. F. Skinner)
A student who knows little and has little chance of being called upon will likely learn very little from schooling
How does knowledge get constructed?
Items are usually categorized on the basis of meaning (particularly after age 12)
Children in particular may classified items in series
Spoken rather than written info
Imageable (picture superiority effect)
Contemplated and connected to existing knowledge through meaning
Encoded through multiple senses
Somewhat distinct from others
but not unheard of
At the beginning or end of a session
In small chunks at a time
Reviewed at intervals spaced apart
Generated rather than just given
Information is recalled along the same paths on which it was encoded
We remember information items by traveling along the pathways where they were encoded
E.g. remember a foreign language better by reviewing your old books, going where it was spoken
Places, time, smells, are encoded with the information (encoding specificity)
Proust and the “madeleines”
(encoding specificity), zones of proximal development?
If we don’t know where to “hang” something, we forget it
Can you remember…. Chloro(trephenylphosphine)gold” ?
We need concrete examples to retain abstractions
If we know where to hang something, we understand!
Precise fit of information items
New items attached
Students may just recite or listen…
The heroes of the revolution are…
The principles of constitutional law are….
2x2=4, 2x3=6, 2x4=8, 2x5=10….
Students recite +
read long texts+
collect real-world samples +
answer questions connecting various items +
derive new conclusions from data +
solve problems +
practice for fluency +
generalize into various circumstances
Knowledge in the schools of the poor
Less utility for employers
Knowledge in the schools of the better-off
More utility for employers
Automaticity and working memory crucial in reading
Minimum reading speed needed for comprehension
45-60 words correct per minute
12 seconds at most
About 7 items
semantic memory !
35 words per minute
through, caught, bake, often, saw, sew
Ils etaient, oiseau, mois, etant
jomi – earth
boithak – meeting
koThin - difficult
Can all students be engaged in this class? Why not?
Do these students discriminate among letters of the blackboard from this distance?
Setting the basis for efficient math acquisition
Triple code in the brain: sense of quantity, number name, symbol
Babies, animals manipulate about 3 items
Addition and subtraction more “natural”, multiplication and division less so
Magnitude processing, Weber fraction (some people better than others)
Long-term memory consolidation (protein formation transfer from hippocampus etc)
Input into short-term memory
Neuron connections to encode information
-Need for teaching methods that optimize classification and retrieval of info
-Optimally spaced reviews
- Need for fluency
- Info must pop up in mind without conscious searches
Thank you for your time!