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Learning & Cognitive Processes. What is a “process” ? (as in Learning Processes). 1 ANYTHING GOING ON <as in “the process of time”> 2 a natural phenomenon marked by gradual changes that lead toward a particular result <the process of growth>. Webster. Sense making

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What is a “process” ?

(as in Learning Processes)

1 ANYTHING GOING ON<as in “the process of time”>

2 a natural phenomenon marked by gradual changes that

lead toward a particular result <the process of growth>


Sense making

Students moving learning experiences

through their own filters of making meaning.


As teachers, we have to decide whether our goal is to

pass the time & fill class sessions with delivery of knowledge

OR to engage students in “meaning making.”


What is Learning?

  • Relatively permanent change
  • due to some experience
    • Is it a change in behavior (what they can do)?
    • (pass a test – mimic the right formula or answer)
    • OR
    • A change in mental representations & reasoning?
    • (reasoning, analysis, critique…)

Basic Assumptions of Cognitive Psychology

People are actively involved in their own learning.

Cognitive processes become more sophisticated with age

People are selective about what/how they process & learn

Prior knowledge plays a major role

Cognitive processes (the specific things that people do mentally)

influence what is learned

Meaning is constructed rather than transmitted


Cognitive Processes of Interest



Types of Knowledge

Depth of processing


Self-regulated learning

Decision making

Critical Thinking

Creative Thinking

Conceptual Learning / Understanding



Rote rehearsal,

Chunking into

meaningful units, Previous knowledge helps

Encoding failure


Information Processing

Model of Memory





Focus on meaning



Long Term Memory





Subject to interference

Explicit vs. implicit

Semantic vs. episodic

Sensory Registers

Vision, Smell, Sound, Taste, Touch

Large capacity

. 5 - 2 second duration

Primary mechanism:


Short Term



Holds 7+ chunks

of information

15-30 second


External events


(selective attention)


(most successful when we focus on meaning & understanding when we learn)

Stop Rehearsing





The Nature of Long-Term Memory Retrieval

Retrieving information from long-term memory appears to be a process of following a “pathway” of associations.

Factors that affect remembering:

How well information is organized

Making multiple connections with existing knowledge

Learning information to mastery and beyond

Having relevant retrieval cues

(A hint about where to “look” for information)


Why learners sometimes Forget

Failure to Store efficiently :

Failure to mentally process information in ways that promote its storage in long-term memory.


Weakening over time of information stored in long-

term memory especially if the information is used



Phenomenon whereby something stored in long-

term memory inhibits ones ability to remember

something else correctly.

Inability to retrieve:

Failure to locate information (reconstruction error)


Teaching Strategies

  • Connections
  • 1) Concepts and ideas within the same subject area
    • 2) Concepts and ideas in other subject areas
    • 3) Students’ general knowledge of the world
    • 4) Students’ personal experience
    • 5) Students’ current activities and needs outside the classroom
  • Practice
  • 6) Have classroom activities that require students to review
  • Time
  • 7) Giving Learners Time to Process (wait time)
        • More class participation
        • Better quality of responses
        • Better overall class performance

Deep Processing

Focus on underlying concepts

Focus on understanding

Learning for the sake of learning & mastery


Surface Processing

Less effort

Rote memorization

Work for grades or evaluation


Declarative Knowledge Relates to how things are - I see a tree, I hear a bird, I am a girl.Learned through:Rehearsal: Repeating something over and over verbally. Can leads to Rote Learning (little or no sense making)Meaningful Learning: Recognizing a relationshipOrganization Making connections among various pieces of new information Often involves connecting it with existing knowledge.Elaboration: Learners expand on new information The more a student uses knowledge the more beneficial it is. Examples of elaborating Why do you think this happens? Can you think of some examples of this concept? How could we use this idea in our everyday lives? What things could you conclude from this information?Visual Imagery: mental pictures, maps, representations


Procedural Knowledge

How to do things. Riding a bicycle, making a bed, etc. Begins with declarative knowledge ABOUT the procedure

but moves on the practice Perform the task, slowly Becomes automatic Encourage students to use verbal rehearsal, give them feed back, let them perform the task in a safe environment.Conditional Knowledge: How to respond in a certain situation

The why and when of application of information