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Unformatted text preview: ooms. The information-processing branch itself has many different
branches and in the remaining sections of this chapter we will describe a hybrid version
of information-processing theory that incorporates the major elements of various
Information-processing theories of learning are a product of the relatively new
field of study called cognitive science. Cognitive science is the systematic study of the
mind, and is concerned with answering questions about the nature of knowledge, how
knowledge is acquired and modified, and how knowledge influences mental and physical
performance. Information-processing theories of learning try to answer these questions
by constructing models of how the mind works.
A model is a concrete representation of mental events that can be used to guide
the understanding of those events. Historically, models of mental events have been
developed using available technology as a metaphor. As an early example, Socrates
likened the mind to the blocks of wax that were used at the time to write notes and send
messages. Wax was melted and placed in a shallow frame. Letters were scratched into the
wax and the sepia (ink) was wiped over the letters to give them distinction. In the
Platonic Dialog, Theaetetus (translation by Robin Waterfield, 1987), Socrates discussed
the mind using this metaphor and noted that a brittle mind would not carry an accurate
representation of information, just as brittle wax would not allow a message to be
imprinted. Also, like wax which is too soft, a soft mind would allow the information to
fade too quickly. Manuscript 9/28/03 4 Modern information-processing psychology uses the computer as a metaphor for
human mental events. Computers take input from the environment, process it using
programs stored in memory, and then create outputs based on the processing of the input.
By analogy, the information-processing model describes how people input information
into their central processor (brain), and how they process that information within various
memory systems until appropriate output or responses can be generated.
In both the case of the computer and the human information-processor, the
knowledge stored in memory is going to greatly impact the types of processing that can
occur. Information-processing theorists have understood this, and have put considerable
effort into describing the nature of knowledge and how it is acquired, stored, and used.
We will begin our look at information-processing theory by examining the nature of
knowledge. We will then look at the information-processing model as a tool for explaining how knowledge is acquired, stored and used. The information processing
model you will learn about has been referred to as a multi-store model of memory,
because it proposes different memory stores each with different characteristics (Atkinson
& Shiffrin, 1968). The actual model presented in this chapter combines aspects of the
original multi-store model of memory with key ideas from Anderson’s (1993) Adaptive
Control of Thought or ACT...
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This document was uploaded on 03/29/2014 for the course EPS 324 at N. Arizona.
- Spring '08