Sunday, January 16, 2011

Information Processing and Problem Solving Methods

          The human brain is an incredibly complicated information processing system that allows humans to perform everyday functions and to learn about their surrounding environments. The brain is a very complex organ and the control center for our bodies. The brain sends and receives electrical and chemical transmissions that allow our bodies to partake in everyday tasks. These messages travel through the central nervous system to the brain. Our brain is divided into several different interworking parts, each having its own job, or task (Ormrod, Schunk, & Gredler 2009). The cortex is responsible for many things including, language, attention, problem solving, learning strategies, temperature, pain, visual information, auditory and speech information (Ormrod, Schunk, & Gredler 2009).   Two theories that can help educators understand how the brain processes information are the information processing theory and brain based learning, a problem solving technique.
          The information processing theory refers to how the human brain decides how to respond to a certain stimulus.  The information processing theory’s main focus is on memory.  Our memory is in control of processing, retaining, and retrieving information. Our memory can also be broken down into three parts, sensory, short term, and long term memory (Huitt 2003).
          The sensory memory, this is where the stimulus is received through one of the five senses: sight, taste, sound, touch, or smell.  Sensory memory retains the brief impression of a sensory stimulus after the stimulus itself has ended. The sensory memory holds information in the form in which it receives, visual in visual form and auditory in auditory form.  If the information that is in the sensory memory needs to be stored it must be encoded then sent to the short term memory.
The second level is short-term memory, which is also called the working memory, and relates to anything we are thinking about at any given time. The short term memory has two limits; one, it can only hold information for about fifteen to twenty seconds, but the information can be available to up to twenty minutes. Secondly, the short term memory can only process a small number of units or information at a time.  Retaining information in the short term memory can be broken into two parts:  organization and repetition.  Organization can be categorized into four major parts: component, sequential, relevance, and transitional.  Repetition is a technique that most people try to learn something new such as simply restating information over and over.  This form of memorization does not lead to learning.  
The last level of memory is our long-term memory. The long term memory stores information and is available for retrieval. If information is stored within the long-term memory it is less likely to be forgotten (Ormrod, Schunk, & Gredler 2009).  The long-term memory is also called the preconscious and unconscious memory.  Preconscious means that the information can be easily recalled within minutes or hours.  The unconscious refers to information that is not available during normal consciousness (Huitt 2003). There are two processes most likely to move information into long term memory, elaboration and distributed practice (Huitt 2003).  Some examples of elaboration are imaging, making connections, rhyming schemes, songs, and acrostic poems.  These examples are commonly used in the teaching and learning process. 
A second learning theory that would be valuable to educators is brain based learning.  Brain based learning is a new approach to instruction using current research from neuroscience. The objective of brain-based learning is to move from memorizing information to meaningful learning (Caine & Caine 1990).   Normally you will hear people say, everyone can learn, when in fact everyone does learn.  Everyone just learns in different ways.  Educators who are aware of current research on how the brain functions and learns will gain an insight about conditions and environments that can optimize learning. The Brain-based learning theory has twelve basic principles for brain based learning. According to Renate and Geoffery Caine the core principles of brain-based learning state that:
  1. The brain is a parallel processor, meaning it can perform several activities at once, like tasting and smelling.
  2. Learning engages the whole physiology.
  3. The search for meaning is innate.
  4. The search for meaning comes through patterning.
  5. Emotions are critical to patterning.
  6. The brain processes wholes and parts simultaneously.
  7. Learning involves both focused attention and peripheral perception.
  8. Learning involves both conscious and unconscious processes.
  9. We have two types of memory: spatial and rote.
10.We understand best when facts are embedded in natural, spatial memory.
11.Learning is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat.
12.Each brain is unique.
Learning is influenced by the natural development of the body and brain (Caine & Caine 1990).  Not all students of the same age have the same learning capacities. Judging students by age is inappropriate and should be based on their previous knowledge.  All students should be challenged in order to satisfy the brain’s hunger and curiosity. The challenges should be meaningful and creative to the students to enhance learning. 
Using the twelve basic core principals of brain based learning; learning should be fostered with emotional support between student and teacher.  Good teaching builds understanding and skills over time.  It’s important for teachers to understand that each hemisphere of the brain is connected and will work together to organize information.   If a hemisphere is neglected while teaching, a person can have difficultly learning. Since each side of the brain is stimulated by different things such as light, noise, visuals, and music, a teacher should engage the interests of students into the lessons to make them more meaningful and easier to remember.  Teachers should use “active processing” to allow students to review what they have learned so they can begin to take charge of their own learning (Caine & Caine 1990).  Having students memorize facts instead of processing the skill needed to compute the skill will interfere with the development of understanding a concept.  Education is enhanced when it is shaped by the internal processes and social interaction.  Success depends on making use of all the senses by immersing the learner in a multitude of complex and interactive experiences.  (Caine & Caine 1990).  Teachers should create a learning environment that provides low threats and high challenges to maximize learning.  As educators knowing and understanding that that each brain is unique, the more students learn, the more unique they become.  Teachers should allow students to be unique in express their preferences when learning.  Learning choices should be varied to accommodate multiple intelligences in order to facilitate optimal brain functioning.
The resources that were used in this week’s blog post have been valuable in my understanding of Brain processing theories and problem solving methods during the learning process. The article provided by Huitt provided resources on information processing theory and our memory.  The article published in Educational Leadership, written by Caine and Caine provided a new theory on problem solving methods using brain based research.  These resources would be valuable for any educator to understand how the brain processes and retains information. 

Caine, R., & Caine, G. (1990). Understanding a brain-based approach to learning and teaching. Educational Leadership, 48(2), 66. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Huitt, W. (2003). The information processing approach to cognition. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved [1/13/11] from
Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson

No comments:

Post a Comment