Memory and Information Processes

Goalsontrack Smart Goal Setting Software

Goal Setting Motivational Software

Get Instant Access

In the 1950s, information processing theorists provided an alternative to behaviorism and offered a rebirth for cognitive psychology. Mayer (this volume) reviews the dominant influence of information processing theories of cognition over the past several decades. A major premise underlying information processing theory is that the human mind seeks to build and manipulate mental representations and that these cognitive processes can be accessed and studied through physiological responses—and more recently, by using introspective interviews and other learning-based observations. Work is reviewed that supports two contrasting views developed within an information-processing paradigm. Classical theorists use the computer-as-mind metaphor with ideas that the human mind is like a complex machine that can be captured through increasingly complex algorithms. Alternatively, con-structivist theorists view the human mind as a place where learners actively build their own knowledge structures by integrating new information with the old (see chapter by Mayer in this volume). Each of these approaches has contributed to somewhat independent streams of research for analyzing fundamental cognitive processes, characterizing key types of mental representations, and proposing integra-tive systems of learning. Nevertheless, work within each of these paradigms reveals that meaningful learning is a generative process in which the learner must actively engage in cognitive processing rather than passively receive or store information (Wittrock, 1990). The components and underlying assumptions of a comprehensive representative model of information processing are presented. Finally, information-processing contributions are reviewed across three content areas—reading, writing, and mathematics learning—and future implications of this work are outlined.

Self-Regulation and Learning

Schunk and Zimmerman (this volume) discuss the role of self-generated or self-directed activities that students use during learning. These notions strongly suggest that students are actively constructing and exercising control over their learning and social goals. Five theoretical perspectives are reviewed that have characterized work within this area: operant theory, information processing theory, developmental theory, social constructivist theory, and social cognitive theory. Research to support the role of self-regulatory processes is reviewed, as is a well-documented intervention that has been successfully linked to improvements in self-regulation in a variety of learners and across different learning contexts. It is of interest to note that the vast majority of the research presented in this chapter focuses on the examination of psychological constructs within the context of the school classroom. The importance of self-regulation in the learning enterprise is presented and reinforces the critical application of educational psychology toward understanding how children learn and how we can enhance the learning process.

Metacognition and Learning

McCormick (this volume) reviews work focused exclusively on metacognition and learning. First, various historical definitions of metacognition are reviewed and contrasted with the more precise definitions currently in use. Clear distinctions are made between metacognition and self-regulation. Metacognition is viewed as one aspect of the larger concept of self-regulation. The latter field of inquiry and its relation to learning is examined by Schunk and Zimmerman elsewhere in this volume. Theoretical issues that have driven researchers over the years are presented, as well as the current unresolved debates. Research paradigms used to assess such abilities are reviewed, including feeling of knowing, pretest judgments, and judgments after retesting. An argument is made that work in metacognition is best viewed as a bridge between theory and practice. Much of the empirical work in this area has been conducted with authentic academic tasks such as reading, writing, and problem solving in science and math.

Motivation and Learning

Pintrich (this volume) presents a comprehensive review of the substantial advances in our scientific knowledge of motivational constructs and their impact on student cognition and learning, especially in classroom settings. Rather than review separate motivational theories, four general outcomes and three key theoretical constructs that cut across theories are highlighted to build a more integrative synthesis of current work in the field. The four motivational outcomes include (a) why individuals choose one activity over another (e.g., to do school work or to play with friends); (b) why individuals become more or less involved in a task either overtly (e.g., taking more detailed notes) or covertly (e.g., using more self-regulation strategies); (c) why individuals persist on a task or are willing to try hard; and (d) what motivational constructs contribute to learning and achievement. The three key constructs are organized into expectancy, value, and affective components of motivation. Expectancy components, defined as beliefs about one's ability to control, perform, or accomplish a task, are substantial predictors of learning and achievement outcomes. Three subtypes have been studied: capacity-personal, strategy/means-ends, and outcome-control expectancies. Most research evidence points to the importance of outcome-control expectancies—in particular, self-efficacy—and their link to later learning and achievement. Value components are defined as goal orientations or cognitive representations of the purpose of a task as well as task value beliefs about the importance of a task, one's interest in a task, and one's ideas about the ultimate utility of a task. Affective components are defined as general feelings of self and one's emotional reactions to a task that affect cognitive resources and performance.

Instructional, Interpersonal, and Relational Processes 9


Contemporary educational psychology draws substantial inspiration and guidance—directly and indirectly—from social learning theory and in particular from the work of Bandura (1969, 1977, 1982). This work reflects a strong sociocul-tural perspective in which the emphasis is on interpersonal, motivational, and social processes that occur in classrooms and other culturally situated settings. Work reviewed here focuses on group structures, cooperative learning, and interpersonal relationships, and on the role of personal motivation, goals, and other internalized social processes that contribute to academic, behavioral, and social adaptation. The impact of gender is explored, as is the question of how instruction is affected by important sociocultural contexts.

Sociocultural Contexts for Teaching and Learning

Social and cultural contexts are important considerations for the understanding of learning and development. The influence of Vygotsky in the latter part of the twentieth century has provided a scaffold for the development of theories of language acquisition, writing, assessment, concept formation, and other domains of learning. Vygotsky's work and that of other Russian psychologists such as Luria in the early part of the twentieth century created a major paradigm shift in Western psychology in the 1960s and 1970s (Luria, 1961; Vygotsky, 1962, 1978). This body of work—in particular, the concepts of internal dialogue and the verbal mediation of be-havior—greatly influenced the field of learning and also the emerging field of cognitive behavior modification, as evidenced in the work of Donald Meichenbaum in the development of self-instructional training (1977).

John-Steiner, one of the original editors of Vygotsky's (1978) major work Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes, and her colleague Mahn (this volume) describe the social and cultural contexts for instruction and learning. They discuss sociocultural approaches in educational psychology with an emphasis on the contributions of Vygotsky and his notions of the individual in the creation of contexts and the internalization of person and environment interactions. The broad interdisciplinary applications of Vygotsky's work and theories are presented in this chapter as John-Steiner and Mahn clarify the philosophical underpinnings of this framework and how it addresses a range of learning outcomes. The breadth of Vygotsky's ideas and their implications for understanding the context and processes of learning are presented, along with the nature of his dialectic method as applied to cognitive processes. The role of Vygotsky's work and theories for educational reform, including children with special needs, assessment—in particular, dynamic assessment—and collaborative efforts in education are also highlighted.

Teaching Processes in Elementary and Secondary Education

There is little doubt that teachers in most cases play the ultimate role in the education of children, a responsibility of enormous importance. For the education of young people, teachers are expected to be experts in classroom management, curriculum, and instruction; in creating classroom environments that are physically and psychologically motivating; and in transmitting knowledge. Pressley and his colleagues (this volume) review and synthesize the research on what makes effective teachers. Investigations of teaching processes provide us with information on what makes effective teachers.

Pressley et al. examine the research and evidence on teachers' direct transmission of information to students—what we traditionally view as teacher-directed, didactic instruction— along with teacher questioning, explanations, and interactions and feedback to students. An alternative to this approach is constructivist teaching processes, including procedures that focus on discovery learning (pure and guided), problem solving, and related activities that challenge and actively engage students in the learning enterprise. There has been great debate in American education regarding the efficacy of direct transmission versus constructivist teaching processes, and Pressley et al. note how these two approaches can be melded to provide a scaffold of instruction and student learning.

Critical to teaching and learning outcomes is the motivation of learners. The manner in which teachers motivate students to engage in learning-related activities is an important variable in determining teacher effectiveness. Pressley et al. note such factors as rewarding achievement, encouraging moderate risk taking, focusing on self-improvement rather than performance comparisons with others, encouraging cooperative group learning, increasing curiosity and cognitive challenge, creating interesting learning tasks and materials, increasing attributions to effort rather than ability, reinforcing the modifiability of intelligence or cognitive ability, bolstering students' self-efficacy for academics, and enhancing students' healthy sense of self. Research shows that effective teachers are active in their promotion of student and classroom motivation (Brophy, 1986).

To better understand the teaching process, Pressley et al. describe how research in the latter part of the twentieth century has provided information on teachers' thinking as they teach, on their knowledge, and on their beliefs about teaching. This research base allows for the examination of factors related to expert teaching. As pointed out by Pressley and colleagues, teachers' behaviors in creating physical and psychological classroom environments that assist in motivating students and provide for good classroom management are characteristics of highly effective teachers. Pressley et al.'s review serves to provide hypotheses as to the meaningful differences between typical and excellent teachers and at the same time acknowledges the immense challenges faced by teachers, particularly as they begin the teaching profession.

Cooperative Learning

After reviewing literature conducted over the past 30 years, Slavin, Hurley, and Chamberlain (this volume) present an integrative model of the relationships among variables involved in cooperative learning. These researchers move beyond a review that establishes the effectiveness of cooperative learning to focus more specifically on conditions under which it is optimally effective. Slavin et al. review recent empirical work on cooperative learning directed at identifying critical factors that motivate and impede learning outcomes. The work in this area primarily has been framed within four theoretical perspectives: motivational, social cohesion, cognitive, and developmental perspectives. Critical group processes, teaching practices, or classroom structures are evaluated within each of these frameworks. Although several comparative studies have been conducted to contrast alternative theoretical formats of cooperative learning or to isolate essential elements, this work has been hindered due to the variety of factors examined and the different measures, durations, and subjects that have been used.

Much of the research conducted over the last decade has focused on how to structure interactions and incentives among students in cooperative groups. One consistent finding is that cooperative learning is most effective when groups are recognized or rewarded for individual as well as group learning goals (Slavin, 1995). Although the specific forms and means of implementing group incentives and individual accountability have varied widely across studies, evidence overwhelmingly points to the need to include both to obtain the greatest long-standing impact on students' learning. Slavin et al. also point out work that demonstrates the times when group goals and individual accountability may not be necessary. For example, when students are working collabo-ratively on higher level cognitive tasks that lack a single right answer, when students are already strongly motivated to perform (as in voluntarily formed study groups), or when the tasks are so structured that learning is likely to result simply from participating. Another context in which group goals and individual accountability may not be essential is during communal learning groups composed of homogeneous ethnic minority members, possibly because of an already high level of interdependence functioning within African American communities (Hurley, 1997).

Relationships Between Teachers and Children

Pianta, Hamre, and Stuhlman (this volume) assert that classroom research on teacher processes and teacher-student relationships has moved far beyond its original focus on teachers' and students' expectations and instructional interactions, classroom discipline and management, socially mediated learning, school belonging and caring, and teacher support. They point out that many of these topics have roots in many sources and disciplines, a sampling of which include the original work of Brophy and Good (1974) on teacher-child interactions, Rosenthal (1969) on classroom interpersonal perceptions and expectations that influence student performance, Vygotsky (1978) on socially constructed development, Bronfenbrenner and Morris (1998) on the influence of multiple contexts on development, Bowlby (1969) and Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, and Wall (1978) on attachment processes between parents and children, the clinical work investigating marital and familial processes (Bakeman & Gottman, 1986), the role of adult relationships in promoting resiliency (Pederson, Faucher, & Eaton, 1978; Werner & Smith, 1980), and finally the longitudinal contributions of developmental systems theory and longitudinal studies of health and psychopathology (Loeber, 1990; Rutter, 1987).

As conceptualized by Pianta and colleagues (this volume), child-teacher relationships not only involve the study of verbal and nonverbal communication processes for exchanging information between two individuals, but also embody biologically determined characteristics and attributes of the individuals involved (i.e., age, gender, ethnicity, temperament, developmental history, and experience), individuals' views of the relationship and their own and the other's role in the relationship, and the external systems within which these interactions are embedded. Educational psychologists have been instrumental in demonstrating that such relationships are a central school-based relational resource that has a positive and reciprocal effect on students' learning, achievement, enjoyment, involvement, and school retention as well as on teachers' sense of well-being, efficacy, job satisfaction, and retention in teaching (Pianta, 1999). Pianta et al.'s chapter reviews current work on teacher-student relationships that has evolved into a dynamic field of study based on developmental systems theory (Lerner, 1998) in which relationships are viewed as part of holistic, multilevel interrelated units functioning reciprocally to motivate successful adaptation and developmental change.

School Adjustment

Wentzel (this volume) has reviewed work demonstrating the importance of social competencies to overall school adjustment and the interrelationships of social, motivational, and academic success. An ecological approach is adopted as a framework to understand how students formulate goals that result in social integration (group cohesion, functioning, responsiveness) and personal social competence (self-determination, persistence, inquisitiveness, and other prosocial skills). She reviews research on school adjustment—defined by motivation of social goal pursuit, behavioral competence, and interpersonal relationships—and focuses on how these assets form a profile of interrelated competencies that are directly related to academic achievement. Research has demonstrated that socially adjusted individuals are able to set and achieve personally valued goals that are sanctioned by the larger community as relevant and desirable. Educational psychology researchers have been at the forefront of work identifying what motivates and mediates such personal goals, the impact of these on personal and school adjustment, and the classroom-school factors that support and promote the expression of these attributes (this volume). Critical factors related to social and school adjustment have been identified. In one study, teachers described ideal students as having socially integrative (helpfulness, sharing), learning (persistence, intrinsic motivation, interest), and performance characteristics (completing assignments, organization).

Gender Issues in the Classroom

Koch (this volume) reviews important literature on gendered socialization of students as they participate in the social and academic culture of the classroom. She suggests that work on social relations in classrooms has led to contemporary efforts to examine curricula through the eyes of gender. She reviews classroom research, practices, and policies that differentiate gender experiences in ways that limit opportunity for females and males in the classroom.

Researchers have shown that the socialization of boys and girls promotes gender stereotypes that in many cases are supported by classroom practices. The work of educational psychologists and others has begun to address the content of the formal curriculum, classroom interaction, and classroom climates that promote gender equity. She explores the attributes of gender-equitable classrooms that foster equitable learning environments for males and females; she also points to the need for a heightened awareness of the impact of gender issues on student learning and self-concept. Gender equity in education refers to educational practices that are fair and just toward both females and males. This work has led to improvements in classroom learning environments and has led to ideas about how to change teachers' attitudes through increased awareness of hidden curriculum and gender-differentiated instruction. Researchers have begun to bypass the oversimplification that sometimes has characterized the field of gender equity. Research on equitable environments seeks to uncover the differential needs and social issues behind gendered behavior. Rather than simply advocating equal treatment, equitable interventions are designed to encourage all children to see themselves as contributors to the class environments. The result may in fact lead to the offering of different experiences to girls and boys in the effort to level the playing field for all students.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Negate Negativity

Negate Negativity

Get All The Information, Tools And Guidance You Need To Permanently STOP Negative Influences That Are Holding You Back. This Book Is One Of The Most Valuable Resources In The World When It Comes Ways To Get The Negativity Out Of Your Life And Deal With Negative People And Bring The Positive Out Of Them.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment