Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Cognition’

by Reni Gorman

I have been doing training for 20+ years now and the audience that gives me the most pain in terms of designing instruction is an audience of experts. Why? Well because experts “know everything”–even if they don’t. That means they are often trying to align new knowledge into categories they already understand. The response to the content you’re teaching is often “Oh, yeah, that is just like…” and they bring up things that they can relate to in their own expert fields. Instructional designers are often encouraged to teach people with examples that learners can relate to—but is this true with experts as well? If experts try to relate everything (or most things) to other things they know, what happens if they get it wrong? Then their brains have just encoded information in an incorrect way—which is not easy to change. It also makes me wonder, maybe this is true for all of us, not just experts. It is just that experts are vocal about it. We know as learning designers that misperceptions have to be uncovered and dealt with upfront before learning can happen in the “right way.” So what can we do?

Well, dual process reasoning theory indicates that two systems collide when it comes to reasoning of any kind. (Holyoak & Morrison, 2005) System 1 is our evolutionary system reflecting a collection of innate modules. Think of this as our instincts; they are so fast and automatic that they do not even register in our consciousness until after the reaction. Kind of like when people jump to very quick conclusions about what they know.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

by Reni Gorman

Tip #6: Provide many examples and practice exercises in which the same underlying concept is at work.

(Links to other articles in this series: 1 2 3 4 5 6)

Cognitive Psychology: Provide examples to facilitate transfer and meaningful deliberate practice to promote understanding and increase memory performance.

Why (Justification):

Bransford et al. (2000) recommend that teachers provide “many examples in which the same concept is at work”. (p. 20) In a study by Gick and Holyoak (1980), they presented subjects with a story of a general who breaks up his army into several smaller groups to take different roads to avoid setting off mines. They still all arrived at the same time and were able to take over the capital. Then subjects were ask to solve a problem where the doctor had to radiate a tumor with enough force to destroy it but without harming the tissue around it. Subjects were told to use the story as the model to solve the problem and most subjects realized that the strategy is to break up the radiation source into smaller rays and focuses them only on the tumor so that the strongest radiation is only there.

“Hands-on experiments can be a powerful way to ground emergent knowledge…” (Bransford et al., 2000, p. 22) However there are different ways to practice. Consider doing math homework with the use of formulas and theorems. If you just followed the rules of the formula, you may have completed your homework in less time than if you truly went through the formula to fully and deeply understand all the ins and outs of the formula. Students who understand the reasons behind a formula can usually remember it much better and apply it much better in the long run. They may even be able to more easily learn or transfer to related mathematical (or other) information that shares the same abstract underlying core concepts, or knowledge elements. (Anderson, 2000) “In mathematics, experts are more likely than novices to first try to understand the problems, rather than simply attempt to plug numbers into formulas.” (Bransford et al., 2000, p. 41) Paige and Simon (1966) conducted a study where they presented subjects with an algebra problem. The expert group quickly realized that the problem was logically impossible.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Tip #5: Help your learners take control of their own learning.

(Links to other articles in this series: 1 2 3 4 5 6)

Cognitive Psychology: Use metacognitive techniques to assist learners to actively monitor their learning strategies and resources.

Why (Justification):

Bransford et al. (2000) highlight that active learning, that lets learners take control of their own learning, begins with metacognition. “A ‘metacognitive’ approach to instruction can help students learn to take control of their own learning by defining learning goals and monitoring their progress in achieving them.” (p. 18)

Anderson (2000) recommends improving memory for text by reading it in multiple passes, asking yourself questions as you go. “In research with experts who were asked to verbalize their thinking as they worked, it was revealed that they monitored their own understanding carefully, making note of when additional information was required for understanding, whether new information was consistent with what they already knew, and what analogies could be drawn that would advance their understanding. These meta-cognitive monitoring activities are an important component of what is called adaptive expertise (Hatano and Inagaki, 1986)” (Bransford et al., 2000, p. 18)

The case of Herbert A. Simon demonstrates adaptive expertise. Simon is credited for significant contributions to eight different fields of study. (Dasgupta, 2003)

Metacognition is what facilitates transfer. When you read, hear or see something, you have to analyze it, and ask questions about it. By monitoring their understanding, questioning and exploring the answers to their questions, students can achieve learning with understanding and become active learners.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

by Reni Gorman

(Links to other articles in this series: 1 2 3 4 5 6)

Tip #4: Find out what your learners know, or think they know.

Cognitive Psychology: Draw out pre-existing conceptions and, more importantly pre-existing misconceptions.

Why (Justification):

“Students come to the classroom with preconceptions about how the world works. If their initial understanding is not engaged, they may fail to grasp the new concepts and information that are taught, or they may learn them for purposes of a test but revert to their preconceptions outside the classroom.” (Bransford et al., 2000, p. 14-15) An excellent example comes from Vosniadou and Brewer (1989). Children think the earth is flat because of their pre-existing experiences with it such as walking on it and looking at it. When told the earth is round children picture a pancake instead of a sphere. They must be told it is spherical along with explanations as to why they have experienced it as flat in order for them to really learn and accept this new information.

New information learned can have an effect on how well you remember older information learned especially if the new information causes a conflict with the old and creates interference. (Anderson, 2000) The good news is that if we learn something new that contradicts what we thought in the past (retroactive interference), we will eventually forget the old information and remember the new information.

If learners have misconceptions that are not brought to light and corrected, they will never be able to effectively build on that knowledge in the future. Knowing what your learners know will also help you set the base-line and pace for the course. Many times instructors assume that their learners have a certain baseline knowledge, when in fact they do not… or they may think they know but their base line understanding is incorrect.

How (Application):

When designing your course, you must learn as much as you can about your learners. Are they beginners, intermediate, or advanced? What do they know, what do they need to know and what may they think they know or know incorrectly? If you can’t reach out to your learners before class then anticipate as much as you can… For example, you can think about the most common misconceptions about each of your main points. Try to come up with a question for each main point, the answer to which will clarify the misconception. For example: Do you think that pre-existing knowledge makes a difference in how people learn?

References:

Anderson, J. R. (2000). Cognitive Psychology and Its Implications: Fifth Edition. New York, N.Y.: Worth Publishers.

Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (2000). How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

Vosnaidou, S., & Brower, W. F. (1989). The Concept of the Earth’s Shape: A study of Conceptual Change in Childhood. Unpublished paper. Center for the Study of Reading, University of Illinois, Champaign, Illinois.

Read Full Post »

by Rich Mesch

I was first exposed to the concept of mirror neurons when I attended the NASAGA (North American Simulation and Gaming Association) Conference in Vancouver in 2007.  I was privileged to hear a talk by Dave Chalk. Chalk is an interesting guy on a number of levels, but most notably because he has had a highly successful career, including being a pilot, an entrepreneur, and a broadcasting personality, despite having been diagnosed at an early age of having a profound learning disorder.

One of the concepts Chalk discussed was the idea of mirror neurons. Research has demonstrated that in primates, our nervous systems react in certain ways when we engage in certain behaviors. The research further demonstrates that they react the same way when we observe the behavior or when we engage in a simulated version of the behavior. As noted by Rizzolatti & Craighero in Annual Review of Neuroscience, 27:

Each time an individual sees an action done by another individual, neurons that represent that action are activated in the motor cortex. This automatically induced, motor representation of the observed action corresponds to what is spontaneously generated during active action and whose outcome is known to the acting individual. Thus, the mirror system transforms visual information into knowledge 1

This is incredibly intriguing, because it seems to demonstrate a biological basis for the benefits of simulation. As simulation designers, we always make the argument that engaging in behaviors in simulation prepares us to engage in behaviors in the real world. But the argument has always been from a cognitive perspective—it helps us form the way we think. The mirror neuron research would suggest that it’s deeper than cognition. And for that matter, that simulation may not just be the next best thing to real world experience—it may be nearly equivalent.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

by Reni Gorman

(Links to other articles in this series: 1 2 3 4 5 6)

Tip #3: Present main points first (the ones you wrote in Tip #2), followed by details, wrapped up by summaries of main points.

Cognitive Psychology: Presenting main points first primes learners and activates associated knowledge pathways. Take the Serial Position Curve into consideration by presenting main points up front, and as part of summaries at the end. Present material using the PQ4R study method (this is a great method, see below for details).

Why (Justification):

When I say: “It is very important to design your course material to facilitate learning with understanding.” Hopefully you deeply processed and understood the sentence and every associated concept you know has just been activated in your brain, this is referred to as associative priming. In addition, activation should spread to the surrounding concepts as well. This is called spreading activation. (Anderson, 2000) Now that you are primed, and have activated your relevant knowledge, you will be much faster at retrieving related knowledge to map new knowledge onto, bring up possible misconceptions, and prepare your mind to learn.

In a study by Meyer and Schvaneveldt (1971) subjects judged associated word pairs such as bread and butter, a lot faster than nurse and butter. These results indicate that when they saw the word bread, it associatively primed the word butter increasing recognition and judgment speed.

The PQ4R study method (Thomas & Robinson, 1972) was designed to help students learn and remember text from a chapter in a textbook. It encourages students to: Preview, Question, Read, Reflect, Recite, Review. To conduct the preview, Anderson (2000) recommends the following: “Read the section headings and summary statements to get a general sense of where the chapter is going and how much material will be devoted to each topic. Try to understand each summary statement and ask yourself whether this is something you knew or believed before reading the text.” (p. 5) It seems that by doing this we are priming ourselves not just for what is to come, but the organization of what is to come, called advanced organizers.

In a study by Frase (1975), subjects who received advanced organizers scored better on tests, then the group who did not receive advanced organizers.

Source: Wikipedia

Hierarchical encoding of serial-order information means that “subjects store long sequences hierarchically, with sub-sequences as units in larger sequences.” (Anderson, 2000, p. 132) Therefore, learners create groups and subgroups and organize them hierarchically as they learn to store and later to recall information from memory.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

by Reni Gorman

(Links to other articles in this series: 1 2 3 4 5 6)

Tip #2: Use the conceptual framework (you created in tip #1) to organize course material into hierarchical groups, subgroups and chunks of 7 (plus or minus 2).

Cognitive Psychology: Prepare information for encoding into the propositional network by attempting to organize and chunk material into meaningful patterns of information based on a conceptual framework and limited to groups or units of 7 (plus or minus 2) to account for the standard capacity of verbal working memory.

Why (Justification):

“The fact that ‘expert’ knowledge is organized around important ideas or concepts suggests that curricula should also be organized in ways that lead to conceptual understanding.” (Bransford et al., 2000, p. 42)

Even though experts have vast knowledge basis in their domain, their knowledge is organized around a set of core concepts that guide them. These core concepts “emerge” as a higher level pattern among all the data for their domain referred to as meaningful patterns of information that arose over years of practice. (Bransford et al., 2000) “A key finding in the learning and transfer literature is that organizing information into a conceptual framework allows for greater “transfer”; that is, it allows the student to apply what was learned in new situations and to learn related information more quickly.” (Bransford et al., 2000, p. 18)

In a study by DeGroot (1965) expert chess players were compared to novice players by asking them to verbalize their thinking as they played. The experts were more likely to recognize meaningful chess configurations and strategies that allowed them to consider sets of moves that were superior to novices. “Chess masters are able to chunk together several chess pieces in a configuration that is governed by some strategic component of the game. Lacking a hierarchical, highly organized structure for the domain, novices cannot use this chunking strategy.” (p. 33)

“The superior recall ability of experts… has been explained in terms of how they ‘chunk’ various elements of a configuration that are related by an underlying function or strategy. (Bransford et al., 2000, p. 32) According to Anderson (2000) our minds seem to break information down into the smallest unit of knowledge that can stand as a separate assertion for storage, into a proposition.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »