How We Learn

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					 How We Learn
  & Remember
      Mike Walker
UNIV1011: University Success
   September 14, 2004
        Learning Outcomes
• explore the questions
  – What is learning?
  – How do we learn?
• examine several theories of learning
• examine levels of learning – understanding
  & thinking
• discuss the roles in the learning process of
  – attitude
  – the brain & information processing
  – memory
       How Do We Learn?
• Were we taught to learn?
• Did we have learning class as babies?
• What is the process by which we are
  presented with new tasks or
  information then demonstrate a skill
  or write a paper?
• How might learning happen?
Part 1 - How Do We Learn?

  Learning Theories & Theorists
     Theories of Learning
• tabula rasa or “blank slate”
   – John Locke
  – Essay Concerning Human
    Understanding, 1690
  – simply that the mind is like an
    empty vessel waiting to be filled
Learning Theories - Activity
• Break into groups & scan the handout
• Briefly identify the major philosophy or
  components of the theory, i.e. how does
  the theory say that we learn?
• Present:
  –   Name of the theory
  –   Name of associated theorists (if identified)
  –   Time theory was popular (if identified)
  –   Brief overview of the theory and the core
      belief (main points - one paragraph)
            Theories of Learning
  • tabula rasa or “blank              • Jean Piaget1      (1896-1980)
    slate”                                    – 4 Developmental Stages
     – John Locke                             – based on the idea that
                                                the developing child
       – Essay Concerning                       builds cognitive
         Human Understanding,                   structures--in other
         1690                                   words, mental "maps,"
       – simply that the mind is                schemes, or networked
         like an empty vessel                   concepts for
                                                understanding and
         waiting to be filled
                                                responding to physical
                                                experiences within his
                                                or her environment.

1. (*source Online:
       Theories of Learning
• Behaviorism1                 • Control Theory1
   – B. F. Skinner                – William Glasser
  – behaviour not                – behaviour change is
    brains                         internal
  – learning is nothing more     – behavior (learning) is
    than the acquisition of        inspired by what a
    new behaviour and              person wants most at
    discounts mental               any given time: survival,
    activities.                    love, power, freedom, or
                                   any other basic human
         Theories of Learning
• Observational Learning1 • Social Cognition1
  – Albert Bandura
                             – L. S. Vygotsky
  – by watching
                             – from culture
  – a social learning theory
    which states that        – a social cognition
    occurs when an             learning model asserts
    observer's behavior        that culture is the
    changes after viewing      prime determinant of
    the behavior of a          individual development.
          Theories of Learning
• Brain-based Learning1 • Neuroscience1
   – natural function        – nervous system links
   – This learning theory is   brain‟s natural function to
     based on the structure    behaviour
     and function of the     – The nervous system and
     brain. As long as the     the brain are the physical
     brain is not prohibited   foundation of the human
     from fulfilling its       learning process.
     normal processes,
     learning will occur.
         Theories of Learning
• Right vs. Left Brain1 • Learning Styles1
   – preferred mode (side)     – preferred style (sensory)
   – This theory of the        – This approach to learning
     structure and functions     emphasizes the fact that
     of the mind suggests        individuals perceive and process
     that the two different      information in very different
     sides of the brain          ways. The learning styles
     control two different       theory implies that how much
     "modes" of thinking. It     individuals learn has more to do
     also suggests that each     with whether the educational
     of us prefers one mode      experience is geared toward
     over the other.             their particular style of
                                 learning than whether or not
                                 they are "smart."
           Theories of Learning
• Multiple Intelligences1           • Constructivism1
   – our preferred way of              – current theory in favour
     understanding                     – a philosophy of learning
   – theory of human                     founded on the premise that,
     intelligence suggests there         by reflecting on our
     are at least seven ways             experiences, we construct our
     that people have of                 own understanding of the world
     perceiving and                      we live in. Each of us generates
     understanding the world.            our own "rules" and "mental
     Gardner labels each of              models," which we use to make
     these ways a distinct               sense of our experiences.
     "intelligence"--in other            Learning, therefore, is simply
     words, a set of skills              the process of adjusting our
     allowing individuals to find        mental models to accommodate
     and resolve genuine                 new experiences.
     problems they face.
 Guiding Principles of Constructivism 1:

• Meaning requires           • The purpose of learning
  understanding wholes as      is for an individual to
  well as parts. And parts     construct his or her own
  must be understood in        meaning, not just
  the context of wholes.       memorize the "right"
  Therefore, the learning      answers and regurgitate
  process focuses on           someone else's meaning.
  primary concepts, not
  isolated facts.
    How you learned . . .

Many (perhaps most) of the things
that you do everyday, some which
are cognitively complex, were not
        learned in school.
  Things you didn‟t learn in school

• Walk and run           • Draw a picture
• Talk -- at least one   • Plant a garden
  language               • Baby-sit
• Ride a bike            • Build models or
• Swim                     crafts
• Give directions        • Interact with
• Bake cookies             others

  You are already an expert learner!
 However, learning in a new
environment may require . . .

    new skills
 & new attitudes
   Some minds are like
concrete: thoroughly mixed
   and permanently set.
 Nude Descending a

• Painted in 1912 by
  Marcel Duchamp
  (1897 - 1968)
• “ . . . symbolic
  painting. . . a
  dynamic form of
Basic Precept

       Your mind is like
        a parachute --
         it only works
        when it‟s open.
Part 2: Learning & the Brain

     Thinking and Processing
 The Potential of Your Brain
• Trillions & trillions    • Three basic learning
  of brain cells             modalities
• 100 billion neurons in   • Eight intelligences
  “thinking brain”
• 20,000 possible
  connections between
• Three brains in one
• Two sides to the
The Triune Brain
         • Reptilian (lower)
           – basic body function
           – fight or flight
         • Limbic (middle)
           – mammalian
           – regulates immune &
             hormone systems,
             sexuality, emotion &
         • Cortical (higher)
           – reason, use language,
             plan, think abstractly
          Our Auto Pilot
• The brain helps us to learn, naturally
  and intuitively
  – Demonstration #1
  – Demonstration #2
    Demo #1 - Count the F‟s

• How may F‟s were there?
Demo #2 - Count the triangles?
        Our Auto Pilot
• The brain helps us to learn, naturally
  and intuitively
• Our brain wants to help us make
  sense of the world - achieve
• Learning occurs because of
  disequilibrium - discomfort or
  a „sense of wonder‟ is natural
        However . . .

the brain is also a tool that we
       consciously use
   to learn and express our
      Domains of Learning
• As is reflected in Constructivist
  theory, Benjamin Bloom believed
  there was more to learning than
  memorizing the right answer.
• Three domains to learning:
  – Cognitive – thinking
  – Affective – feeling
  – Psychomotor - doing
      Bloom‟s Taxonomy of the
          Cognitive Domain
• 6 levels of understanding or thinking
• from simplest to most complex
  –   knowledge            simplest
  –   comprehension
  –   application
  –   analysis
  –   synthesis            complex
  –   evaluation         or abstract

• observation and recall       Question Cues:
  of information                  list, define, tell,
• knowledge of dates,             describe, identify,
  events, places                  show, label, collect,
• knowledge of major              examine, tabulate,
  ideas                           quote, name, who,
                                  when, where, etc.
• mastery of subject

  2. source online: Bloom‟s Taxonomy. Learning Skills Program.
  University of Victoria:

• understanding          Question Cues:
  information              summarize, describe,
• grasp meaning            interpret, contrast,
• translate knowledge      predict, associate,
  into new context         distinguish, estimate,
                           differentiate, discuss,
• interpret facts,
  compare, contrast
• order, group, infer
• predict consequences

• use information       Question Cues:
                          apply, demonstrate,
• use methods,            calculate, complete,
  concepts, theories      illustrate, show, solve,
  in new situations       examine, modify,
• solve problems          relate, change,
                          classify, experiment,
  using required
  skills or knowledge

• seeing patterns     Question Cues:
• organization of      analyze, separate,
  parts                order, explain,
• recognition of       connect, classify,
  hidden meanings      arrange, divide,
                       compare, select,
• identification of    explain, infer
             Synthesis 2

• use old ideas to     Question Cues:
  create new ones       combine, integrate,
• generalize from       modify, rearrange,
  given facts           substitute, plan,
• relate knowledge      create, design,
  from several areas    invent, what if?,
• predict, draw         formulate, prepare,
  conclusions           generalize, rewrite
               Evaluation 2

• compare and              Question Cues
  discriminate between       assess, decide, rank,
  ideas                      grade, test, measure,
• assess value of            recommend, convince,
  theories,                  select, judge, explain,
  presentations              discriminate, support,
• make choices based on      conclude, compare,
  reasoned argument          summarize
• verify value of
• recognize subjectivity
 How do we think . . .

Information Processing
A Simple Model of Learning &
   Information Processing

               •   Attention
               •   Sensory Input
               •   Decoding
               •   Processing
                   – May include Storage
                   and/or Retrieval
               • Encoding
               • Physical Output
A Visual IP Model - Learning
        and Memory
Info Processing: the Analogy
       Brain              Computer
• The Senses        • Input devices
  –   see             –   scanner
  –   hear            –   microphone
  –   touch           –   keyboard/mouse
  –   smell/taste     –   modem
        Brain              Computer
• Working Memory      • RAM
• Central Processor     – 4MB or 128MB
  – neuro-network     • Central Processor
                        – 286 or Pentium?
        Brain             Computer
• Long-Term Memory   • Hard Drive
        Brain                   Computer
• Encoding/Decoding,       • Operating system
  Absorption/                – DOS or Windows
  Retrieval                • Software
  –   abilities              – Notepad or Word
  –   practice
  –   learned skills
  –   strategies
        Brain                Computer
• Physical Output       • Output Devices
  –   auditory            –   monitor
  –   kinesthetic         –   printer
  –   tactile             –   speakers
  –   affective           –   modem
   Where the analogy ends
• functioning computers have perfect
  memories - few of us do
• computers process information
  effectively but cannot make meaning
  (Constructivism) - we have the
  flexibility of human thought
Part 3 - Learning & Memory
      Learning & Memory
          What is Memory?
                 Poetically . . .

  Memory is history
recorded in our brain,
memory is a painter, it
paints pictures of the
 past and of the day.
            Grandma Moses
            American Painter

         Image source online:
         What is Memory?
            Neurologically. . .
                       – chemical connections
                         between neurons
                         caused by strong
                       – created by action,
  Memory: neural         sensory or emotional
traces in your brain     event
                       – sustained by
         Types of Memory
• Sensory
  – exact copy, lasts for a second or less
  – “What was that sound?”
• Short-term
  – temporary storage, 10 to 20 seconds
  – typically 7 items – telephone number
• Long-term
  – hopefully permanent
  – relies on storage and retrieval
• Working Memory      (related to Short-term)
  – taking notes, solving a math problem, answering
    an exam question
Where is Memory?
         • Reptilian (lower)
           – basic body function
           – in the cerebellum
           – skill memory
         • Limbic (middle)
           – mammalian
           – hippocampus
           – long-term memory
         • Cortical (higher)
           – prefrontal cortex
           – working memory
    I like this quote:

The true art of memory is
  the art of attention.

                Samuel Johnson
   The Three Rs of Memory
• Registration (Encoding)*
  – something comes to your attention that has
• Retention (Storage)*
  – a conscious decision to remember followed by a
    strategy to make it happen
• Recall (Retrieval)*
  – ability to remember usually linked to
    strategy/technique used in retention
• *text book processes are similar
 Another IP Model -
Attention and Memory
   What do we remember?
• Demonstration #3
              How do we forget?
• Herman Ebbinghaus,
• subjects memorize a
  list of meaningless,
  three letter words

                      Graphic Source:
            Ebbinghaus Curve:
How do we forget after class?

                 The Forgetting Curve






Class Ends   10 min.   24 hours    1 week   1 month
                     Overcoming the Curve
Remembered %

                70                                       Review   1
                60                                       Review   2
                50                                       Review   3
                40                                       Review   4
                 Class 10 min. 24 hrs.   1 wk.   1 mo.
Overcoming the Forgetting Curve
Analogy: the Fishing Trip
                So Review
• 10 min – Review & fill in the blanks, alone or
  with a friend – check your understanding
• 24 hr – Later in the evening or next day by
  rewriting, typing or organizing notes* (Cornell)
• During the week (before lab or next class if
  you have two periods a week)
• 1 week - Before class the following week
• Therefore, when you study for your midterms
  and finals, you have already reviewed the
  material 3 to 4 times
  One Technique to Remember

• Demonstration # 4
• Half of the class - heads down
• Read the following list - I‟ll give you
  15 seconds
• Then write down as many as you
             Demo 4b
• Tally the score for the two groups
      Improving Your Memory
• Read pages 189 to 196 from your text and
 implement these strategies!
• Use Specific Strategies*
  –   Have purpose and intention
  –   Understand what you memorize
  –   Recite, rehearse & write
  –   Study during short but frequent sessions
  –   Separate material into manageable sections
  –   Use a tape recorder selectively
      Improving Your Memory
• Use Visual Aids
  – flash cards, mind maps
• Use Critical Thinking
  – process the info, relate it to prior knowledge
• Use Mnemonic Devices
  –   Create visual images & associations ( RR & phil)
  –   Use an Idea Chain (statue)
  –   Create acronyms (HOMES, SCUBA)
  –   Use songs or rhymes (30 days, P of W)
   Improving Your Memory
• Relax                • Practice output
• Be active            • Review early and
• Use many               regularly
  intelligences        • Develop memory
• Organize your time     aids
• Chunk material       • Practice, practice,
• Create strong          practice
  associations         • Sleep on it
  Internet Resources - Memory
• Mind Tools-Memory Techniques & Mnemonics
• The Memory Page
• Exploratorium: The Memory Exhibition
• Your Amazing Brain
 Internet Resources - Memory

              University Sites
• Middle Tennessee State University
• University of St. Thomas
• University of Illinois at Chicago
 Keys to Success online resources

• Type in
• will take you to
• Click on
  – Student Resources
• Click on
  – Listening, Note Taking, and Memory:...
               For Next Class
• Read Chapter 2 – Self-Awareness
• Complete the 2 learning style inventories:
  – Pathways to Learning (Multiple Intelligences)
     • *Error – item 7 should be in the Verbal-Linguistic box
  – Personality Spectrum (based on MBTI)
     • *!* pay attention to page 41 - Scoring
• Complete the Discovery Wheel Inventory
• be prepared to discuss how these results
  might relate to your course, program, and
  career choices
     . . . so, what did we learn
             about today?
• What is learning?/How do we learn?
  – Theories of learning - 12 theories
  – Constructivism – learning is making meaning
• Attitude & opening our minds to learning
• The Brain - our primary learning tool
  – a bit about how it functions, automatically
  – a bit about how it helps us learn
   . . . so, what did we learn
           about today?
• Levels of Information Processing
  from the
  – Intuitive to the
  – Consciously cognitive - Bloom‟s Taxonomy
• Memory and how it works
  – one memory system (of many)
  – one memory technique (of many)
   . . . so, what did we learn
           about today?
• Where to find out more
  – from our textbook
  – from the web