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Thinking and cognition
On this page are activities or materials related to thinking and cognition as it occurs in
Go back to the
Specific topics of ed psych
Demonstrating Basic Information Processing
It is easy to demonstrate the basic elements of information processing theory--the nature of
attention, short-term memory, executive processes,
. The five activities below illustrate each of these cognitive functions. As a group, the demos fit nicely within 60 minutes of class time, though they can be embellished to take longer.
Theories of learning
Aug 27, 2009
Basic Information Processing, Part 1: Attention
(sometimes also called
short-term sensory store)
Basic Information Processing, Part 2: Short-term Memory
(similar to, or perhaps also identical with,
Basic Information Processing, Part 3: Long-term Memory
Basic Information Processing, Part 4: Relating the demonstrations of information processing to classroom learning
Basic Information Processing, Part 5: Learning by Doing vs. Learning by Simple Rehearsal
Attention Processes in More Detail
If you are looking for more detail and research-related information about attention processes, try this link, which is a module on the topic from the Open University. Possibly it has TOO much information for some preservice teacher education students, but check it out and decide for yourself. The material is very well organized.
Nov 8, 2010
Effect of Language on Cognition
If your course includes coverage of Piaget's theory of cognitive development, then you may need to address the relationship between language and cognition: does language guide and stimulate development of thinking (a Vygotskian perspective), or does it follow and reflect development of thinking (a Piagetian perspective)? Here is a classroom demonstration that helps students thinking about this question.
Nov 17, 2010
Social Influences on Cognition
Although Piaget's theory might give the impression that cognition develops more-or-less inevitably from active experience, studies show that it is actually very much subject to social pressures and biases. Here is a classroom demonstration that illustrates just how malleable most of us are.
Nov 17, 2010
Does Gesturing Help Thinking or Help Communication?
(After you get to this link, scroll about half-way down the page to get to this particular article.)
Every teacher knows students who gesture a lot when they talk; they seem to "think with their hands." Does the gesturing help them to think? There is a concise summary of research on this question at this blog, written by Wray Herbert. It turns out that gesturing
helpful to learning, but only if students gesture "appropriately" (i.e. in a way that maps logically onto what they are saying). So...maybe teachers ought to encourage gesturing--or even encourage children to count on their fingers?...
Mar 23, 2010
Effects of Familiarity on Problem Solving
For most people (including students), the difficulty of a thought problem depends not just on the challenge of thinking logically, but also on familiarity with the terms of the problem. Here is a classroom demonstration of this idea; it presents a single logic problem in two ways--one using arbitrary terms and the other using familiar terms. The difference in difficulty is substantial!
Nov 9, 2010
Basic Issues about Problem Solving
Here is text for a lecture/discussion about the fundamental nature of problem solving. The information is not quite in Powerpoint format, but is written in a style that can be rendered into Powerpoint format easily.
Nov 10, 2010
Simulating Learning to Read
One way to understand the child's experience of learning to read is to simulate the experience yourself. Here is a classroom activity that does this for preservice education students; it focuses on the challenge of initial "word attack."
Nov 19, 2010
The Relationship Between Divergent Thinking and "Creativity"
What constitutes "creativity," especially as it might manifest in the classroom? Is the classic measure of
really part of it? This participatory and discussion-based activity can help students begin to address these questions, if not fully answer them.
Dec 7, 2010
Mistakes in Cognitive Processing in Everyday Life
A video lecture by Dan Gilbert, Harvard economics professor, about the many ways that human beings make mistakes when solving everyday problems. Many ideas here that are useful for managing students' behavior, both as individuals and as a class. This is one of the "TED" lectures; about 30 minutes in length.
Jan 18, 2011
Assorted British-based Instructional Materials for Teaching about Cognition
This is part of a British website that supports the teaching of general introductory psychology. The above link is all about cognition, but it is also worth poking around among some of the other pages at the same site.
Sep 2, 2011
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