Week 2: Information Processing Theory and Problem-solving Methods

Week 2

“Brain research and information processing are providing exciting insights into the learning process, inviting us to observe learning as a natural phenomenon…” (Nummela & Rosengren, 1986, p. 50).

In their article, What’s Happening in Students’ Brains May Redefine Teaching, Nummela and Rosengren emphasize the need to develop content that is meaningful and challenging, with an absence of threat to encourage effective learning. They also suggest involving multiple senses and using a story format to emotionally engage students so that “both sides of the brain will participate in the educational process regardless of subject matter” (1986, p. 51). This resonates with me as I learn best through story.

This article describes the teaching methods of Ivan Barzakov, moving sequentially from pre-exposure to exposure, expansion, and re-creation. Barzakov stresses that repeating information in different ways is critical to facilitate long-term storage. It is ironic that, according to Nummela and Rosengren, learning should be looked at as “an expansion of knowledge…and not as the accomplishment of goals to be evaluated and rewarded” (1986, p. 52). Yet teachers today are required to teach to the Test. What our educational system requires is the opposite of how we learn effectively.

This article further goes on to discuss (1) barriers that prevent students from processing information effectively and (2) “downshifting”, which occurs when “higher brain functions of reasoning and problem solving are abandoned; overpowering emotions characterized by the subcortical limbic system or older brain take over” (p. 52). This intrigues me as Asperger’s students frequently have anxiety issues that could cause this downshifting and acting out.

Nummela, R.M. & Rosengren, T.M. (1986). What’s Happening in Students’ Brains May Redefine Teaching. Educational Leadership.

The second article that I found valuable was Effect of Using Problem Solving Method in Teaching Mathematics on the Achievement of Mathematics Students, by Ali, R., et al (2010). This article discusses the merits of problem solving methods rather than traditional teaching methods while teaching mathematics to elementary school children. “Problem based learning is a model which centred on students, develops active and motivated learning, problem solving skills and broad field knowledge” (2010, p. 68). The reason I found this article valuable was because it empowers the students to be active participants in the resolution of problems presented. This makes the the learning process meaningful and increases the effectiveness of long-term storage.

Ali, R., Hakamdad, Akhter, A., Khan, A. (2010). Effect of Using Problem Solving Method in Teaching Mathematics on the Achievement of Mathematics Students. Asian Social Science, 6(2), 67-72.

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