Friday, May 25, 2007

Making Sense

Many people see education as a process of transferring information, as if information were a commodity that can be moved from one place to another.

In this view, learning is simply about adding new information to memory. And the goal is to find the most efficient way to get the information from the brain of the teacher into the brain of the learner.

Richard Mayer argues (Multimedia Learning) that learning is about making sense. It is a process of constructing a network of knowledge.

Learning involves integrating new information into existing networks of information (schemas) stored in long-term memory. According to this theory, there are only two things that distinguish an expert from a non-expert.

  • They have extensive schemas.
  • Parts of those schemas are "automated."

When you first learned to drive, you had to focus on many different things. The first few attempts were overwhelming. But with experience, the details combine into schemas that can be managed all at once. And many of those details can be safely automated.

The same is true for learning to read. At first you needed to learn the letters. Then you needed to learn how to combine them into words. The first stage of reading required you to pay attention to every word. And some words had to be "sounded out," requiring you to focus on the letters. As your skill developed, so did your vocabulary and your reading schema. Now you can even read sentences words missing and undrstnd words with letters missing.

Your expertise with these two difficult tasks has developed to the point that you could even do both at the same time.

Here's a little more background if you're interested.

Pastor Rod

"Helping You Become the Person God Created You to Be"

No comments: