Sunday, September 19, 2010

Post # 2: Evaluating and Identifying Online Resources

Part of this week’s assignment was to locate two resources (web sites and/or online journals) on this week’s topics: the brain and learning, information processing theory, and problem-solving methods during the learning process. Write a blog entry that cites the websites and/or online journals, and comment on the value of these resources.

I decided to utilize the school’s library for one article, and the World Wide Web for the second.  In the school’s library there were several databases and journals to choose from, and the results of my search query displayed thousands of articles for this week’s topic.  I finally decided on an article from the European Journal of Education called Brain Research, Learning and Emotions: Implications for Education Research, Policy and Practice. From the Internet, I decided on an article featured on titled Information Processing Theory and its Effect on Children and Learning.

The article from the European Journal of Education discusses the field of educational neuroscience and explores the implications for education research, policy and practice. The specific core concepts that are discussed in the article are:
  • Human development is shaped by a synergy of biology and experience
  • Emotion is fundamental to learning
  • There are developmental sensitivities for certain aspects of language learning
  • The literate brain can be created through multiple developmental pathways
  • Mathematics is created in the brain with biology and instruction                                            (Hinton, Miyamoto, Della-Chiesa, 2008)
Based on the discussion of the article’s core concepts the author’s propose specific education policies should be implemented:

Focus on the learning environment
Rather than focus on treating the individual policy should shift its attention to restructuring the environment.  The “nature” of the individual is often already in place; however the “nurture” (environment) can also greatly affect the shaping of the brain’s structure and overall function.

Make use of formative assessment
Formative Assessment is a tool that can be used to assess the learning of an individual vs. the performance.  Emphasis is placed on the comprehension and understanding of information and concepts.

Take into account the importance of emotions
Neuroscience has confirmed that emotions are fundamental to learning. Because emotion is fundamental to learning, it is valuable to support research that considers emotional dimensions of learning, such as research on math anxiety.

Consider sensitive periods for language learning
Foreign language should be studied at an earlier age.  Neuroscience confirms The earlier foreign language instruction begins, the more efficiently and effectively the brain is able to learn its accent and grammar.

Inform reading instruction with neuroscience findings
Teacher training programs would ideally include information about literacy in the brain. It is particularly crucial that teachers are trained to recognize indicators of dyslexia because early dyslexia interventions are generally more successful than later interventions. Researchers can pinpoint neural causes of reading disorders.

Inform mathematics instruction with neuroscience findings
Since humans are born with a biological inclination to understand the world numerically, formal mathematics instruction might build on existing informal numerical understandings. Because number and space are tightly linked in the brain, instructional methods that link these are powerful teaching tools. It would be useful to provide teachers with programs to include information about mathematics and the brain. (Hinton et al., 2008)

I found this information especially interesting and useful when I compared it with the Internet article from titled Information Processing Theory and its Effect on Children and Learning. This particular article discusses the information process theory and how it specifically affects children and their learning. The discussion begins with the sensory register and the transfer of the information from WM (Working Memory) and LTM (Long Term Memory). As we learned previously this week, components such as attention, rehearsal, organization, and elaboration, all affect what, if and how, that information is actually transferred to the memory banks.  As a person develops and grows in age, the way in which they process information also changes.  “As a child grows the way they process information and how the process work develops and changes as the child grows. In infancy babies show signs of learning as soon as they are born; they also show a "preference for moderately complex stimuli" at this age” (Ganley, 2002-2010)Lastly the article takes into consideration the influence that one’s environment can have on learning ability and information processing. “Children are born into environments and the information they are first confronted with comes from direct stimulation from the environments they are in. The environment inevitably has an affect on what a child perceives and what information is remembered and thought about. Environments vary and the factors instilled in children in relation to knowledge vary as well” (Ganley, 2002-2010).

The two articles have similar theories and beliefs regarding information processing theory, and brain development and learning in children.  The article as presented in the European Journal of Education takes the evidence of neuroscience a step further by presenting specific solutions educators can implement within their school systems to better facilitate the natural brain development and information processing of children. It is important to have an understanding of information processing theory and brain development and learning for all ages of students. An educator/instructor will be better prepared to create lesson plans to specifically meet the needs of their students as well as be able to recognize if a student is not developing at the rate in which they should.

Both of these articles are a great resource for educators, instructors, teachers, in assisting them meet the educational needs of their students.

Hinton, C., Miyamoto, K., & Della-Chiesa, B. (2008). Brain Research, Learning and Emotions: Implications for Education Research, Policy and Practice. European Journal of Education, 43(1), 87-103. doi:10.1111/j.1465-3435.2007.00336.x.

Ganley, Sarah. (2002-2010). Information Processing Theory and its Effect on Children and Learning. Helium. Retrieved September 18, 2010, from

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