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The actual processes of elaboration and organization occur in working memory
where new associations are formed among chunks of declarative knowledge created by
selective perception processes or retrieved from long-term memory. This is an important
point to remember. Since the capacity of working memory is limited, the amount of
information that students can elaborate or organize in a give period of time is also
limited. You should keep this in mind as you plan your lessons. Avoid giving you Manuscript 9/28/03 35 students too many new ideas at once and allow them time to elaborate and organize what
they are learning.
As a final point, it is important to remember that the way knowledge is organized
and elaborated has a powerful impact on how the knowledge will be retrieved and used.
Declarative knowledge is organized and elaborated into schemata. Schemata have
profound effects on where attention is focused, what is understood and remembered, and
learners’ ability to problem solve (Anderson & Pearson, 1984). Using terminology from
earlier in the text, key processes like perception, attention, encoding, and retrieval are all
going to be influenced by the schemata that are activated to guide those processes.
Unlike declarative knowledge, procedural knowledge in not directly encoded into
long-term memory. Instead a second cognitive process called compilation. As was
previously defined compilation is a process that creates and organizes new procedural
knowledge in long-term memory as the skill is performed. The compilation process is
made up of two parts, proceduralization and composition.
Proceduralization is the cognitive process that creates new productions from
declarative knowledge active in working memory. When we are first learning a skill, we
represent the skill as declarative knowledge. We are likely to form declarative knowledge
representations about the types of goals that can be reached by applying the skill, the
conditions when the skill should be used, and the actual mental or physical steps involved
in executing the skill. To execute the skill using this declarative knowledge, we have to
think about each step of the performance. For example, consider a young basketball
player who is practicing a skill she has just been shown. At first, she has to think about Manuscript 9/28/03 36 what she has to do. This is slow and inefficient. How many of us have heard a coach say,
“Stop thinking so much, and just do it.” With some practice, these thoughts are converted
to productions through proceduralization. Rather than having to think consciously about
the skill, if the conditions exist for the action, we just do it. A production for a basket ball
play may look like this, “If she comes down the side, then move into a position that keeps
her on the side.” Productions contain actions that will be taken immediately if the
conditions for the action are present. Automatic action replaces deliberate thought about
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- Spring '08