Robert Siegler described three main characteristics of the information-processing approach: thinking, change mechanisms, and self-modification.

  • Thinking: Thinking is information processing. In this regard, Siegler provides a broad perspective on thinking. He says that when children perceive, encode, represent, and store information from the world, they are engaging in thinking. Siegler believes that thinking is highly flexible, which allows individuals to adapt and adjust to many changes in circumstances, task requirements, and goals. However, there are some limits on the human’s remarkable thinking abilities. Individuals can pay attention to only a limited amount of information at any one moment, and there are limits on how fast we can process information.
  • Change Mechanisms: Siegler argues that in information processing the main focus should be on the role of mechanisms of change in development. He believes that four main mechanisms work together to create changes in children’s cognitive skills: encoding, auto immunization, strategy construction, and generalization.Encoding is the process by which information gets into memory. Siegler states that a key aspect of solving problems is to encode the relevant information and ignore the irrelevant parts. Because it often takes time and effort to construct new strategies, children must practice them in order to eventually execute them automatically and maximize their effectiveness. The term automaticity refers to the ability to process information with little or no effort. With age and experience, information processing becomes increasingly automatic on many tasks, allowing children to detect new connections among ideas and events that they otherwise would miss.The third change mechanism is strategy construction, which involves the discovery of new procedures for processing information. Siegler says that children need to encode key information about a problem and coordinate the information with relevant prior knowledge to solve the problem, To fully benefit from a newly constructed strategy, generalization is needed. Children need to generalize, or apply the strategy to other problems. Transfer occurs when the child applies previous experiences and knowledge to learning or problem solving in a new situation.
  • Self Modification: The contemporary information-processing approach argues that, as in Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, children play an active role in their development. They use knowledge and strategies that they have learned in previous circumstances to adapt their responses to a new learning situation. In this manner, children build newer and more sophisticated responses from prior knowledge and strategies. The important of self-modification in processing information is exemplified in metacognition, which means cognition about cognition, or “knowing about knowing”.

(A) Memory:

Memory is the retention of information over time. Educational psychologists study how information is initially placed or encoded into memory, how it is retained or stored after being encoded, and how it is found or retrieved for a certain purpose later. Memory anchors the self in continuity. Without memory you would not be able to connect what happened to you yesterday with what is going on in your life today. Today, educational psychologists emphasize that it is important not to View memory in terms of how children add something to it but, rather, to underscore how children actively construct their memory.

The main body of our discussion of memory will focus on encoding, storage, and retrieval. For memory to work, children have to take information in, store it or represent it, and then retrieve it for some purpose later.

Encoding is the process by which information gets into memory. Storage is the retention of information over time. Retrieval means taking information out of storage. Let’s now explore each of these three important memory activities in greater detail.

In everyday language, encoding has much in common with attention and learning. When a student is listening teacher, watching a movie, listening to music, or talking with a friend, he or she is encoding information into memory. Six concepts related to encoding are attention, rehearsal, deep processing, elaboration, constructing images, and organization.

  • Attention: To begin the process of memory encoding, children have to attend to information. Attention involves concentrating and focusing mental resources.
  • Rehearsal is the conscious repetition of information over time to increase the length of time information stays in memory.
  • Deep Processing. Following the discovery that rehearsal is not an efficient way to encode information for long-term memory, Fergus Craik and Robert Lockhart (1972) proposed that we can process information at a variety of levels. Their theory, levels of processing theory, states that the processing of memory occurs on a continuum from shallow to deep, with deeper processing producing better memory.
  • Elaboration is the extensiveness of information processing involved in encoding Thus, when you present the concept of democracy to students, they likely will remember it better if they come up with good examples of it Thinking of examples is a good way to elaborate information.
  • Constructing Images. When construct image of something, we are claborating the information. For example, how many windows are there in the apartment or house where your family has lived for a substantial part of your life? Few of use ever memorize this information, but you probably can come up with a good answer, especially if you reconstruct a mental image of each room. Take a “mental walk” through the house, counting the windows as you go.
  • Organization: If students organize information when they are encoding it, their memory benefits.

(B) Storage

After children encode information, they need to retain, or store, the information. Among the most prominent aspects of memory storage are the three main stores, which correspond to three different time frames: sensory memory, working (or short-term) memory, and long-term memory.

Memory’s Time Frames:

Children remember some information for less than a second, some for about half a minute, and other information for minutes, hours, years, even a lifetime. The three types of memory that vary according to their time frames are sensory memory (which lasts a fraction of a second to several seconds);short-term memory (also called working memory; lasts about 30 seconds), and long-term memory (which lasts up to a lifetime).

  • Sensory Memory: Sensory memory holds information from the world in its original sensory form for only an instant, not much longer than the brief time a student is exposed to the visual, auditory, and other sensations. Students have a sensory memory for sounds for up to several seconds, sort of like a brief echo However, their sensory memory for visual images lasts only for about one-fourth of a second. Because sensory information lasts for only a fleeting moment, an important task for the student is to attend to the sensory information that is important for learning.
  • Short-Term Memory: Short-term memory is a limited-capacity memory system in which information is retained for as long as 30 seconds, unless the information is rehearsed or otherwise processed further, in which case it can be retained longer. Compared with sensory memory, short-term memory is limited in capacity but relatively longer in duration. Its limited capacity intrigued George Miller (1956), who described this in a paper with a catchy title: “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two.” Miller pointed out that on many tasks, students are limited in how much information they can keep track of without external aids. Usually the limit is in the range of 7±2 items. Related to short-term memory, British psychologist Alan Baddeley proposed that working memory is a three-part system that temporarily holds information as people perform tasks. Working memory is a kind of mental “workbench” where information is manipulated and assembled to help us make decisions, solve problems, and comprehend written and spoken language. Notice that working memory is not like a passive storehouse with shelves to store information until it moves to long-term memory. Rather, it is a very active memory system.
  • Long-term Memory: Long-term memory is a type of memory that holds enormous amount of information for a long period of time in a relatively permanent fashion. A typical human’s long-term memory capacity is staggering. The distinguished computer scientist John von Neumann put the size at 2.8 X 10 (280 quintillion) bits, which in practical terms means that long-term memory storage is virtually unlimited. Even more impressive is the efficiency with which individuals can retrieve information. It often takes only a moment to search through this vast storehouse to find the information we want. Think about your own long-term memory. Who was your first-grade teacher? When were you born? Where do you live? You can questions instantly. answer thousands of such Of course, not all information is retrieved so easily from long-term memory.

(C) Retrieval and Forgetting

After students have encoded information and then represented it in memory, they might be able to retrieve some of it but might also forget some of it.


When we retrieve something from our mental “data bank,” we search our store of memory to find the relevant information. Just as with encoding, this search can be automatic or it can require effort. For example, if you ask your students what month it is, the answer might immediately spring to their lips. That is, the retrieval may be automatic. But if you ask. your students to name the guest speaker who came to the class two months earlier, the retrieval process likely will require more effort.


One form of forgetting involves the cues. Cue- dependent forgetting is retrieval failure caused by a lack of effective retrieval cues. The notion of cue-dependent forgetting can explain why a student might fail to retrieve a needed fact for an exam even when he is sure he “knows” the information. For example, if you are studying for a test in this course and are asked a question about a distinction between recall and recognition in retrieval, you likely will remember the distinction better if you possess the cues “fill-in-the-blank” and “multiple-choice,” respectively.

Another source of forgetting is memory decay. According to decay theory, new learning involves the creation of a neurochemical “memory trace,” Which will eventually disintegrate. Thus, decay theory suggests that the passage of time is responsible for forgetting. Leading memory researcher Daniel Schacter (2001) now refers to forgetting that occurs with the passage of time as transience.

Memories decay at different speeds. Some memories are vivid and last for long periods of time, especially when they have emotional ties. We can often remember these “flashbulb” memories with considerable accuracy and vivid imagery. For example, consider a car accident you were in or witnessed, the night of your high school graduation, and where you were when you heard about the destruction of the World Trade Center towers. Chances are, you will be able to retrieve this information many years after the event occurred.

D. Thinking

  • Concepts are categories used to group objects, events, and characteristics on the basis of common properties: Concepts are elements of cognition that help to simplify and summarize information. They also improve memory, communication, and time use.
  • In teaching concept formation te children, it is helpful to discuss with them the features of concepts, definitions and examples of concepts (using the rule-example strategy), concept maps and hierarchical organization, hypothesis testing, and prototype matching.
  • Thinking involves manipulating and transforming information in memory. Types of thinking include forming concepts, reasoning, thinking critically, making decisions, thinking creatively, and solving. problems.
  • Inductive reasoning involves reasoning from the specific to the general. Analogies draw on inductive reasoning. Deductive reasoning is reasoning from the general to the specific.
  • Critical thinking involves thinking reflectively and productively and evaluating evidence. Brooks and Brooks argue that too few schools teach students to think critically and deeply. They believe that too often schools give students a correct answer instead of encouraging them to expand their thinking by coming up with new ideas.
  • Decision making is thinking that involves evaluating alternatives and making choices among them. One type of decision making involves weighing the costs and benefits of various outcomes. Numerous biases (confirmation bias, belief perseverance, overconfidence bias, and hindsight bias) and the flawed heuristics they use (the availability heuristic and the representativeness heuristic) can interfere with good decision making.
  • Creativity is the ability to think about something in novel and interesting ways and come up with unique solutions to problems. Guilford distinguished between convergent thinking (which produces one correct answer and is characteristic of the type of thinking required on conventional intelligence tests) and divergent thinking (which produces many answers to the same question and is characteristic of creativity). Although most creative students are quite intelligent, the reverse is not necessarily true. Here are some ways teachers can foster creativity in students encourage creative thinking on a group and individual basis, provide environments that stimulate creativity, don’t over- control students, encourage internal motivation, foster flexible and playful thinking, and introduce students to creative people.

E. Problem Solving:

  • Problem solving involves finding an appropriate way to attain a goal. Four steps in problem solving are (1) finding and framing problems, (2) developing good problem solving strategies (such as using subgoaling, heuristics, and algorithms), (3) evaluating solutions, and (4) rethinking and redefining problems and solutions over time.
  • Obstacles to problem solving include fixedness (functional fixedness and mental set), lack of motivation and persistence, and not controlling one’s emotions.
  • Problem-based learning emphasizes solving authentic problems like those that occur in daily life. The Adventures Jasper Woodbury, a multimedia set of twelve math problem-solving adventures, is an example of problem based learning, Jasper-related projects also can help students with science, history, and social studies.

F. Transfer:

  • Transfer occurs when a person applies previous experiences and knowledge to learning or problem solving in a new situation. Students especially benefit when they can apply what they learn in the classroom to situations in their lives outside of the classroom.
  • Types of transfer include near and far and low-road and high-road. Near transfer occurs when situations are similar; far transfer occurs when situations arc very different. Low-road transfer occurs when previous learning automatically transfers to another situation. High-road transfer is conscious and effortful. High-road transfer can be subdivided into forward-reaching and backward-reaching.

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