EDU510

This module I am taking EDU510, The Cognitive Science of Teaching and Learning. So far this class has been very engaging and I am finding that it ties in well with my Psychology background. I am hoping to apply the information that I am learning in this class to my future career in the field of education, whether I am educating children or adults. Here is an overview of what we have done in the first three weeks of the course:

Week 1

In week one of the class, we took a deeper look at the cognitive sciences and artificial intelligence. After careful consideration and research, I determined that human emotions would be the most difficult aspect of human thinking to replicate in computers. Computers do not have physiological needs and, therefore, have no need to fulfill them. This makes it impossible for them to feel a sense of well-being when their needs are met or unnerved when they are not (Hay, 2014). We must understand that it is difficult for people, both in and outside of the classroom, to learn if their physiological needs are not met.

My belief that computers will never be able to fully imitate humans is not to say that artificial intelligence cannot or will not achieve some amazing feats.  Check out the video below to see how the human brain compares with one of today’s most complex technologies – the internet:

(Tiffany Shlain & The Moxie Institute Films, 2012)

Week 2

In week two, we learned about the mental representations of logic, rules, and concepts. Logic provides the reasoning needed to solve problems. Rules help students to recognize cause-and-effect relationships and that actions have consequences (Thagard, 1996). Concepts provide students with the ability to mentally process things quicker, as they are used to group similar information together. This is beneficial, because it gives them a mental starting point, rather than having to start from scratch each time that they attempt to learn something (CrashCourse, 2014). I hope to build my teaching strategies around these three things so that I can optimize learning for my students.

We were also encouraged, in the first two weeks, to think about some of the differences between the ways in which adults and children learn. The main difference between adults and children is that adults have more experience. This means that they already have an established set of beliefs about many of the topics that children are encountering for the first time (TEAL, 2011).

From a neurological standpoint, brain images have shown that the frontal lobes play a significant role in the thinking process (CrashCourse, 2014). Since the frontal lobes do not mature until adulthood, children may engage in poor decision making. However, children are often more open-minded when it comes to learning than adults are. Adults tend to shut-out anything that contradicts their existing beliefs (UC Berkeley, 2014).

This information implies that we must work hard to instill morals in children and to teach them right from wrong. When it comes to adults, they benefit more if we act as a guide and allow them to engage in self-directed learning.

Week 3

Currently, we are in week three and this week we are discussing learning styles. We had the opportunity to learn about the different learning styles, as well as a chance to make connections between brain functioning and our learning preferences. Here is a brief description of what takes place in the brain as we encounter stimuli:

The human brain contains billions of neurons, which are activated by the stimuli. Once activated, these neurons transmit messages, via neurotransmitters, to neighboring neurons. The stronger the activation signal, the more neurons the message reaches (Chudler, 2001). The neural process becomes more efficient each time a message is repeated, resulting in knowledge (“Supporting smart”, 2012). This information indicates that students can benefit greatly from the use of repetition within the classroom. Here is a picture of what neural pathways might look like inside the brain:

(http://www.bianoti.com/neural-network-wallpaper.html)

Learning about the various learning styles helped me to realize that people have different learning preferences. When educators are able to tap in to the various learning styles, they increase the chances that their students will learn and retain knowledge. One thing that I plan on doing is incorporating a lot of visuals into my curriculums. According to research, visuals make it easier for students to understand concepts (Kouyoumdjiam, 2012).

This covers most of the things that we have discussed in EDU510 over the past three weeks. Come back soon to read about how the rest of this fascinating class goes!

 

References

Chudler, E. H. (2001, March). Neuroscience for kids. Retrieved from http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/computer.html

CrashCourse. (2014, May 19). Cognition: How your mind can amaze and betray you – Crash Course Psychology #15 [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-sVnmmw6WY

CrashCourse. (2014, June 9). The growth of knowledge: Crash Course Psychology #18 [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nz2dtv–ok

Hay, M. (2014, April 22). Could a machine feel human-like emotions? Retrieved from http://www.vitamodularis.org/articles/could_a_machine_feel_human-like_emotions.shtml

Kouyoumdjiam, H. (2012, July 20). Learning through visuals. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/get-psyched/201207/learning-through-visuals

Supporting smart synapses: Changing the brain to improve learning. (2012, February). Teaching Tips,3(2). Retrieved from https://www.einstein.yu.edu/uploadedFiles/departments/dfsm/faculty-development-fellowship/Teaching Tips Vol3 Issue2 – Neurobiology of learning.pdf.

Thagard, P. (1996, September 23). Cognitive Science. Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/cognitive-science/

Tiffany Shlain & The Moxie Institute Films. (2012, November 5). Brain power: From neurons to networks [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLp-edwiGUU&t=53s

TEAL. (2011). Adult learning theories. Retrieved from https://lincs.ed.gov/sites/default/files/11_ TEAL_Adult_Learning_Theory.pdf

UC Berkeley. (2014, March 6). Kids outsmart grown-ups: Berkeley research [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHQ0DemKcEA

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