With many sensations never reaching a conscious level

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Unformatted text preview: y register varies by the nature of the stimulus, but the typical duration is from a fraction of a second to a few seconds. with many sensations never reaching a conscious level of awareness. In the brief time that these sensations are retained, only some are identified and marked for further processing. The cognitive processes that accomplish this initial screening of information are referred to as selective perception processes (Gagne, Yenkovich and Yenkovich, 1993). Selective perception includes the processes of perception and attention. Attention is the cognitive process of selecting information from the sensory register for further processing. Another way to say this is that we focus our attention on particular sensations but not on others. At times this selection or focusing process is under voluntary control, and at other times it is not. Attention that is under voluntary control is called selective attention (Howes, 1990). Learners intentionally select some information to attend to because that information is important for achieving their goals. Teachers can assist learners in this process by helping them identify the information that is important. For example, teachers might emphasize certain points in a presentation by writing them on the board or repeating them. It is also the case that sometimes external events will cause an automatic shift in attention. Changes in our surroundings, such as a loud noise, or movement within our peripheral field of vision will often draw, at least momentarily, our attention. This Manuscript 9/28/03 21 automatic selection is referred to as an orienting response, and the stimulus that automatically draws our attention is called an orienting stimulus (Howes, 1990). For example, suppose that a general science class is engaged in a lab activity. One student accidentally drops a piece of glassware that makes a loud noise as it shatters. The attention of other students is diverted from the lab activity as they all search for the source of the noise. In this case the loud noise was an orienting stimulus and the students looking up was an orienting response. Highly chaotic environments are likely to affect students’ attentional processes by providing a variety of orienting stimuli or distractions. In a later chapters we will discuss the importance of maintaining a predictable classroom environment. Here is just one more theoretical justification for providing that type of environment. Perception is the process of identifying meaningful patterns of information in the sensations present in the sensory register. Perception is heavily influenced by the interaction of stimulus context with the prior knowledge of the person perceiving the stimulus. Stimulus context refers to the stimuli which surround or are associated with the stimulus being perceived. Compare how the symbol “13” looks when it appears in the sequence, “12, 13, 1 4.” Compared to its appearance in the sequence “A, 13, C.” Typically the identification of this symbol is he...
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