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Cognitive Learing Theory and Useful Strategies

July 15, 2010

In week one’s application I stated my philosophy on how students learn is by behaviorism and multiple intelligences.  However, after reading this week’s resources and watching the video clips I realize I rely heavily on the Cognitive Learning theory and useful strategies that match up well.

Cognitive learning theory or Information processing Model (IPM) generally deals with gathering sensory input and collecting it into the short-term (or working) memory.  Through the process of making connections, the idea is to store it into long-term memory.  There are several instructional strategies that facilitate creating a stronger connection for the initial sensory input to be stored in long-term memory. 

We want our student’s to remember.  To remember, there must be strong connections to the information.  Unknowingly, I have tried to make the strong connections using some of the strategies in chapter 4, “Cues, Questions and Advanced Organizers.”  I am a strong believer in the multimedia.  I use all the time just to get the students another avenue, or connection, to get the information. 

Dr. Orey talked about forgetting information.  He said, “We don’t forget the information, we just forget the connection tat can bring us to the information (Laureate 2008).”  I strongly believe in this.  How many times have you been asked a question (let’s say trivia night) and it drives you crazy because you know the answer, but you it seems as if you can’t find it.  The answer is revealed -and you go, “Oh yeah!” Then rant off four more facts about the same question.  Your mind was able to find the connection.

I had to teach my students about endocytosis, excocytosis, and osmosis this year.  These three terms deal with things passing through a cell membrane.  Osmosis deals with strictly water moving through the membrane.  I told my kids that whenever they see the word water and cell membrane in a question together, the word osmosis needs to pop up in their head. 

Now here is where the multimedia aspect comes into the lesson.  My students kept telling me about some movie called “Osmosis Jones.”  I was unaware of the movie, but apparently it is character, which is made out of water…..  I plan on showing parts of the movie next year to create another connection.  This one will be a strong connection because it is an “episodic memory from their childhood.  The movie Osmosis Jones~~made of water~~ cell membrane is the connection I hope to make using multimedia.

 Osmosis Jones~~water~~cell membrane is “network” connection inside the brain.  It can also be a concept map that students can create and use to get information into long-term memory.  Concept mapping tools replicate the “network” model of memory (Dr. Orey 2008).  They help students learn or organize information.  Who out there was taught when writing a 5-paragraph essay to “map” out your paper first.  You had the bubbles and lines going everywhere on your paper, but it made sense.  You had your main ideas down and organized.  I believe concept mapping tools are vital for IPM.

I have used concept maps every year.  They really work well.  I do both teacher constructed and let the students create their own also.  When the students create their own, I just give them a list of key terms and they generate the connections.  I feel this is good because they are synthesizing the information, but unfortunately, they synthesize wrong.  In my experience, teacher created concept maps work best because you are giving the students what I call the “Nuts and Bolts” of the content.

I only mentioned concept maps and multimedia relating to IPM, but in reality there are many strategies that work with the IPM.  I am going to stop here, but I want to share a thought or insight.  Dr. Orey talked about the short-term memory in the rule of 7 +/- 2 things…  Is this the reason for the lengths of phone numbers and social security numbers?????  Just a thought.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 16, 2010 5:00 pm

    I think you bring up some very valid points. Your idea of showing the movie clips to further those connections is going to be huge. We all know how much kids relate to cartoons or characters and they do remember different vocabulary because it is used in a song or animation. My kids at home love cartoons and some of the cartoons actually use some good vocabulary…surprise, surprise. My kids are only 6 and 4 and they will use words like familiar and especially. I always ask them where they heard that word and they always say from Spongebob or some other show. It is amazing how creating those connections can really store information in our long term memories and we are able to use that information correctly.

    I had never thought about the phone number or social security number idea before, but now it makes sense. It’s actually funny because I probably wouldn’t have remembered that 7 +/- piece of information, but you made the connection for me. Thank You!

    Great post!

    • July 17, 2010 6:36 pm

      This week’s resources have me focusing more on the conncection rather than the content itself… I am starting to modify my ideas and philosophy on teaching. It may be better to have several mini-lessons to cover a topic I used to do in one or two lessons. In my several mini-lessons, I should really focus on “connections” to content and not just the content itself.

      Cartoons are a valuable tool if they are dependable. I don’t know if you have ever heard of the “Magic School Bus,” bu my students love this show. They told me about it. I had never heard of it before last year. I found several videos of it on

  2. Josh S permalink
    July 17, 2010 8:58 am

    Chris, great post. I really like how you gave the example of “forgetting” simple trivia. This happens to me all of the time and then it drives me nuts when I am reminded the answer. I know that I know the answer, but somewhere along the way I have forgotten or lost the connections to get to that answer. As you say, once I get a reminder I can tell a person anything else they want to know about the topic. I watch the television show “Jeopardy” all of the time, and I bet the ones who do the best are the ones who are easily able to form easy to remember connections between materials. There are so many times that I know I have learned about a specific answer, but I do not know the answer because a quality network connection was never formed in my brain.

    Also, good thought on the size of important numbers such as telephone numbers or social security numbers referencing the 7 plus or minus 2 theory that Dr. Orey speaks of. Also, think about how most numbers are chunked using hyphens or spaces. It is easy to remember long numbers when groupings are used. For instance, I remember by credit card number as four small sets of numbers. If I looked at it differently, I don’t think I could remember 16 straight individual numbers. The connections I formed in my brain are easier to remember in small number groups as opposed to large ones.

    • July 17, 2010 6:45 pm

      I am going to start focusing more on the connection that is made with new content….

      Thinking of another example on how the brain work I remember this year a time with my board in the classroom. It pretty much stayed the same all year. When I was changing it, i noticed the pictures I was taking down left an imprint in the shape. (a dis-coloration) Anyways, I was given a test and I was having several students ask me a question that could have been answered by the board before it was taken down. I walked to the board and pointed at the dis-coloration and a light-bulb quickly went off in several of their heads. I was amazed at the time, but now I see why it worked…. The connection in their brain stimmed from the board.

  3. Michael Thomas permalink
    July 18, 2010 5:11 pm

    You make some excellant points about how students need to be able to connect with what is being taught. I have used united streaming before and it works great with the different movie clips that helps with the connection. By using the visual aides of movie clips, students are able to move information for their working memory to long term memory. I agree that if teachers affectively use differnt congitive strategies like concept maps, graphic organizers, movie clips, the information presented will be processed at a higher level because information is organzied and chucked rather than information presented in larger segments. Great thought mentioned.

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