Saturday, April 28, 2012

Working memory - Part 6 - Organising

Before I introduce the During phase of a learning activity it is important that I recap on the whole of the Before phase. The Before phase has three processes that contribute to the efficiency of working memory and learning. For example, in reading 'attending' relates to decoding the text at the surface level of the print or illustrations. The planning process focuses on the the cognitive or thinking level where the reader meshes the new with the known. The goal setting process is a self-regulating activity that determines the direction of learning.

Before the learning activity (Conceptualise) comprises these three processes:
  • Attending:  focusing attention on the task and excluding extraneous information.
  • Planning: ordering information (what is known) and prioritising time. This may take the form of writing notes, drawing diagrams, visualising.
  • Goal setting: prioritising and setting goals for the activity.

The During phase of the learning activity (Organise) is the next phase.

It begins with the organising process at the factual level of thinking. Organising involves sifting out the main ideas from the contributing ideas or details. It is a sifting function that identifies and categorises information. In reading it works at the surface or factual level of text and reframes the information so that it can be processed and remembered.

Five suggestions for organising the reading:

  1. Ask, "What are my goals?"
  2. Ask, "What is the text saying?"
  3. Ask, "What are the most important bits of information?"
  4. Ask, "What are the other contributing ideas or important details?"
  5. Write 2. & 3. on post-it notes to review later.
Above all, focus on meaning and these things will fall into place.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Working Memory - Part 5 - Goal Setting

Goal setting: prioritising and setting goals for the activity. 

After having an extended Easter holiday break in Sydney I had the opportunity to reconsider my long term goals. This helps me to refocus and to re-energise.

Most people would agree long-term goal setting is important for success in life. However, goal setting is just as important in the short-term. For example, when engaging in an activity people need to set clear goals so that they are more focussed and are more able to measure their achievements. By setting goals the learner takes responsibility for his or her own progress.

When clear goals are set they enable working memory to function more efficiently by directing attention to what is important and ignoring extraneous information. They also provide a measure to gauge the effectiveness of strategies that learners employ in attaining these goals.

There are two types of goals; product goals and performance goals. Product goals direct the learner to focus on learning content. For example, while reading a story about Captain Cook and his voyage of discovery the reader will be interested in answering questions about who, what, when, where, and why. Process goals, on the other hand, focus on the strategies and skills that are needed to answer the above questions. For example, a process goal in reading may be to use a compensatory strategy such as rereading a sentence when there is a loss of meaning during the reading process. An easy way to set these goals is to make two wishes.

Five suggestions:
  1. Say each goal (wish) aloud.
  2. Visualise achieving each goal.
  3. Write down each goal.
  4. Make sure that the goals are challenging.
  5. Check that the goals are realistic and attainable.