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Unformatted text preview: !"#$%&'()*&#&+*,-.&/,)-0& TE150: Reflections on Learning Unit 1 Study Guide TOPIC 1.1: Statistical Learning Big Idea: Out of the constant stream of perceptual information, some things happen together more often than others. That is, some patterns are correlated, or associated, more than others---so much so that the statistical probability of their co-occuring in the future is very high. Things that fly often have feathers and sit in nests. Things on a plate taste good. Human beings are very good at noticing these patterns. In fact, this is one of the main ways we learn. It happens whether or not we mean to do it. Our brains almost can't help but pick up on statistical regularities in the environment. Key Words: Statistical Learning TOPIC 1.2: Conditioning Big Idea: Conditioning is a behaviorist learning mechanism based on the same principles as statistical learning—namely that people readily learn when things co-occur. In classical conditioning, learning happens when two stimuli simply become associated (e.g., Pavlov's dog salivated at the sound of a bell, once he had learned that the bell signaled dinner). In operant conditioning, learning happens when consequences are associated with certain behaviors (e.g., if I drive fast, I may get a ticket). In both cases, the more consistent the pairing, the more readily people learn and attend to it. Put another way, people give weight to the correlations that hold up. They also give weight to the correlations with high salience (e.g., if the reward is a million dollars, or the punishment is death). Incredibly complex behaviors can result from chains of rather simple conditioned responses. Key Words: Classical Conditioning, Operant Conditioning, Positive Reinforcement, Negative Reinforcement, Punishment TOPIC 1.3: Comparisons, Categories and Analogies Big Idea: People use similarity to make sense out of the world---to group objects, to compare one experience to another, to transfer learning from one situation to another, to form concepts, and so forth---but similarity is very fluid. Two things that seem very similar in one respect, or situation, can seem very dissimilar in another. One factor is context (e.g., what other items are in the scene? What is the goal of the comparison?) Another factor is how much surface similarity there is. People tend to focus on surface features more than deep relational features. So they might have an easier time seeing the similarity between an orange and a basketball versus the similarity between time and a river. Importantly, this is particularly true of children. Reliance on surface similarity is very high in childhood and slowly decreases as more relational comparisons become !"#$%&'()*&#&+*,-.&/,)-0& possible (aka. the Relational Shift). Analogical reasoning is a continuation of "Comparisons and Categories"---it's just a more complicated use of similarity. Unlike simple object groupings that can be based on color or shape, analogies tend to involve two things that have very little in common on the surface, yet share many deeper commonalities (e.g., time is a river; the solar system is like an atom). Analogies also can require aligning several aspects of a situation or entity at the same time. For example, when you know how to calculate the interest payments on an installment loan, you should also be able to calculate the return on your 401K investments, but to do so, you have to align all the parts of the solution and the new problem correctly. Sometimes people are led into making false analogies when there are surface features in common, but the underlying relations don't line up. Conversely, they may miss true analogies because of a lack of surface features. This improves with age, when people become better at using relational information, but even adults have trouble connecting two situations that seem unrelated on the surface. Key Words: Surface, Funcitonal, Relational, Relational Shift TOPIC 1.4: Piaget's Mechanisms of Learning and Adaptation Big Idea: Piaget was trained as a biologist, so he tended to see learning in terms of biological processes. Specifically, he focused on the way individuals achieved fit with their environments. Over biological time, species slowly adapt to their environments, generation by generation, with the "fittest" individuals surviving to procreate. Piaget thought children did the same thing over developmental time—slowly adapting their concepts to the real world by weeding out the weak concepts that didn't fit, while strengthening the ones that did. As long as a conceptual structure has a good fit, children will continue to filter the world through it. That is, they assimilate new experiences into their existing structures. This can involve mild conceptual change---they might reorganize some information (like realize tomatoes are fruit without changing their whole conceptual structure for plants). But if a conceptual structure didn't fit some new experience, children would experience this as a lack of balance, or disequilibration, and they would have to change the structure (aka. accommodation). Piaget believed that by continually adapting conceptual structures in response to new information, children achieved more powerful and accurate representations of the world. Key Words: Adaptation, Assimilation, Accommodation, Disequilibration, Equilibration, Piaget, Schema TOPIC 1.5: Learning Equals Brain Change Big Idea: It’s easy to think of the mind as separate from the brain, but they are the same thing. So, when we speak about learning, we actually mean some change in the brain. This change can be anatomical, neurochemical, or metabolic, but in all cases, it’s a !"#$%&'()*&#&+*,-.&/,)-0& physical change. The human brain is very plastic. That means you’re not really born with your brain all set up a certain way. Instead, your brain is malleable—ready to be shaped by experience. People lose this flexibility as they age and their brains commit to certain organizations. For example, when babies are born, they are capable of learning any language. But as soon as they start to learn one language, (e.g., English), their brains begin to tailor to it. Their brains are literally shaped by their experiences with English. This is good because as they continue to learn English, their brains will be better and better prepared for it. However, once their brains commit to that organization, there are fewer parts left to learn new things. This is why it’s harder to learn a second language in later childhood than it is in infancy. Of course, it’s not impossible. We retain some plasticity in adulthood. But we are never as flexible as we were in childhood. As Chuck Nelson points out, this makes children especially vulnerable to bad input, but especially receptive to good input. Children are quite literally “impressionable.” Key Words: Adaptive change, Maladaptive change, Metabolic, Anatomical, Neurochemical, Resilience, Competence TOPIC 1.6: Why teachers need to know about Brain Change & !"#$%&'()$It may seem like brain research is only useful for doctors (!), but it’s actually of deep interest to people who study learning and it can help teachers, too. Students will read a debate on this very issue. One side of the debate links brain research with a number of pedagogical strategies. The other side argues that we do not know enough yet to use brain research in teaching children. By thinking through this debate, students will have a chance to decide for themselves if and how brain research can help them. It will also expose them to the challenges of translating research into practice. As teachers, they will confront this issue time and again.& $ ...
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