The information processing theory approach is the study involving cognitive development in psychology. Developmental psychologists who recognize and use the information processing perspective note that mental maturity is as a result of the child’s basic components changing (Shaffer & Kipp, 2010).
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This equates the human mind to a computer whereby the information processed is from the environment that enters the mind through the attention mechanisms. Thus, the theory of the mechanism of the human brain relates and addresses the growth of the child’s mind. This is with respect to the processing of information in an advanced manner, as well as responses to the information received. This theory emphasizes the continuous pattern of development.
In the model where human beings are viewed as computers, the comparison of the two is used to comprehend the manner in which the information is handled by individuals. In the model, information is taken in or simply it is input. Then, it is encoded through the processing system to give a meaning that is compared to the stored information. A good example is the central processing unit of the computer where the information is encoded, given a meaning, and compared to the previously stored information (Shaffer & Kipp, 2010).
Four Pillars of the Information Processing Model
There are four pillars that underlay and support this model. These include rationality that embraces various aspects such as perception, coding, and storage of information within the mind of an individual. Secondly, there is the analysis of the stimuli. In this case, there is a change of the encrypted stimuli in an effort to facilitate the decision making process within the brain.
There are four sub-processes that form the alliance to enable the brain come to a conclusion concerning the encoded information it receives and stores. These four include encoding, strategization, generalization, and automatization (Shaffer & Kipp, 2010).
Thirdly, there is the situational modification where an individual uses experience by a collection of memories that are stored to control a situation of the same manner in the future. Lastly, there is the obstacle evaluation that enhances the maintenance of the subject’s development level.
The obstacle at hand is always taken into consideration when evaluating the subject’s intellectual, problem solving, and cognitive acumen. There are times when misleading information can confuse the subject. Thus, the subject may not find it easy to solve issues at hand (Shaffer & Kipp, 2010).
The Information Processing System
The information progression includes three elements. The first aspect is the sensory register. The second one is the short-term memory. The last element of the information process is the long term memory. The sensory system has a sensory store. This is where information is received and stored temporarily. The information is held in the sensory register for a long time to allow unconscious processes to operate on the traces of the information.
There is the short-term working memory, which is also called the center of the unconscious thought. This is usually equated to the analogous to the central processing unit of the computer. This is where information from the long term memory and the environment are merged to solve the problem. Nevertheless, this memory has a limited capacity to hold information. This explains why human beings cannot solve many problems at the same time.
According to the information processing perspective, the visual or verbal information working memory increases as children grow up until age 15 years. This leads to higher performance in fluid intelligence tests. Notably, the brain’s maturation process among children can lead to enhanced processing. The person’s ability to master numerous items in this memory at once is normally improved by this faster processing speed in the working memory (Shaffer & Kipp, 2010).
The long-term memory stores the information that involves the representations according to the knowledge of that person. This information remains dormant until when it is required to be utilized to solve a problem. This memory consists of explicit and implicit memory systems.
For children, they posses the implicit long-term memory that they cannot account for hence affecting their behavior. Explicit memory can be divided into two. This includes the semantic and episodic memories. Children can actualize semantic memories quickly hence enabling them to grasp vocabulary at a faster speed. On the other hand, episodic memories come up at slow speed.
Many psychologists believe that the formulation of episodic memories in children increases during the child’s life from one stage to another. Before the development of this theory, psychologists had problems in defining intelligence. According to information processing, intelligence is defined as the ability to process the cognitive information from the internal and external stimuli and come up with the desired answer or solution according to the information stored in the long-term memory.
Lastly, information processing theory uses both the elements of qualitative and quantitative development. Under qualitative development, there are aspects of new plans of information to be stored and later released for future use, enhancement of abilities such as the representation of concepts by the use of language, and obtaining rules that aid in problem solving.
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The quantitative development aspect holds that advancement in the level of the knowledge acquired is dependent on one’s ability to recall items from the working memory (Shaffer & Kipp, 2010).
Constructivism is a learning theory and an approach to teaching that emphasize on how people denote meaning of the world through a chain of constructs that are self-developed. According to Glaserfeld (1989), constructivism is “a theory of knowledge with roots in philosophy, psychology, and Cybernetics” (162). In this case, it is a learning process that is based on providing the learners with practical experience.
Hickman, Neubert, and Reich (2009) observed “constructivists do not look for copies or mirrorings of an outer reality in the human mind” (40). However, humans are seen as people who observe things, participates and are agents that generate and transform the patterns that aid them in coming up with the realities that fit them.
The learner is self-directed, innovative, and creative. This education enables the learner to be creative and innovative through the steps of analyzing the situation and concept synthesis of experience acquired before to form new knowledge. For fifth grade science class, the educator’s work is to mentor the student during the problem solving process of hard problems. This can be achieved by the use of questions that enhance the knowledge that the learner and allow for the formulation of new knowledge (Lombardi, 2011).
For social constructivism, it recognizes the uniqueness and complexity of the learner. It is regarded as a critical aspect of the learning process. In this case, it encourages the learner to get the version of truth that is understandable. The instructors have to adapt and employ the role of being facilitators and not necessarily teachers. This is due to the tender age of the learners they deal with hence they have to help them in their own understanding of the content.
Problem solving in psychology is the state of desire to arrive at a certain goal from a condition at hand. It is the initial stage that does not seem to be moving towards the goal. It requires complex logic to find a missing explanation of conditions so as to arrive at the goal. Problem solving refers to a cognitive process that is complex. It is an intelligent task that requires the regulation of essential skills. Problem solving occurs when, from a given present condition, one is moving to a desired objective or goal.
It may also refer to a process that is generated mentally, which has various aspects. This process involves the discovery, analysis, and establishment of solutions to problems. The uniqueness of the situation is critical in determining the manner in which a problem can be solved.
For students in the fifth grade class, the instructor is expected to help them learn through the simple steps of identification through observation about the issue at hand and use the knowledge to arrive at the desired goal. During teaching lessons, the instructor leads the students to the problems they cannot identify themselves due to their level of understanding. The teacher then helps the students to come up with the solutions through some well constructed guidelines (Eggen & Kauchak, 2012).
The guidelines include the simple steps that involve identifying the problem to help the students avoid identifying the wrong source of the problem. Strategies or plans on how the problem will be solved depend on the uniqueness of the situation and the preferences.
Before the solution can be arrived at, the available information is organized starting from the information that is known to the unknown. The resources to be employed are allocated, which can be money or time. The evaluation of the results is done to ascertain the validity of the solution.
Critical thinking is a reasonable and reflective thinking that is aimed at making a decision of what to believe or what to do (Ennis, 1987). According to Brookfield (2000), critical thinking is a vital learning component in most professions. Thus, it is included as part of the formal education process and is used as a progress evaluation tool for students in the university before they graduate.
This form of thinking makes goals clear. It also evaluates assumptions and tries to understand hidden values. Notably, examines the evidence and undertakes actions. It also calls for an assessment of the conclusions.
Core critical thinking includes observation, interpretation, analysis, inference, evaluation, explanation and meta-cognition. It is all about one having the ability and willingness to evaluate his or her own thinking. In this case, one does not always have the relevant information, or may not discover other information hence critical thinking is necessary.
Students should be allowed to engage in reflective problem solving and do thoughtfully made decisions. In this case, the teacher will have to help students and make the judgement according to the context using the applicable methods or techniques for the judgement. This also includes the theories that are applicable to understanding the problem and solving the question at hand.
Strong critical thinking requires one to reflect on every idea that led to the decision that was or has to be made. Consequently, it is recommended that greater reflection and deliberation is critical to decision making. In this case, there will be a need to engage in solving problems that require critical thinking (Eggen & Kauchak, 2012).
There are mind habits that categorize people who strongly rely on critical thinking to have that inner desire to follow reason and evidence. However, this is for as long as they lead to a systematic approach to problem solving. Critical thinking is deemed pathetic once people have intellectual skills alone. In this case, the individuals lack rationality in the mind.
The two have to be intertwined for strong critical thinking that makes sense to the result. Therefore, that lack rationality can lead to wise thoughts. However, this can be unscrupulous, immoral, and idiosyncratic (Eggen & Kauchak, 2012).
Use of constructivism, problem solving and critical thinking in school
In schooling, constructivism, problem solving, and critical thinking are beneficial to students and the community. The students are able to construct in their own minds the basic ideas, principles, and theories that are sensible according to the context. These ideas, principles, and theories are always formulated out of the ability to the student’s innovation and creativity and to think critically. This is the process of internalization.
There is the use of the ideas, principles and theories by the students to become relevant learners in their lives a process called application. As a good teacher, one should cultivate intellectual application of all these three aspects including constructivism, problem solving, and critical thinking at every stage of learning (Eggen & Kauchak, 2012). This is the initial stage in 5th grade class, and is meant to enhance the intellectual development of the students.
Brookfield, S. (2000). Contesting criticality: Epistemological and practical contradictions in critical reflection. In T. J. Sork, V. Chapman & R. St. Clair (Eds.), Proceedings of the 41st Annual Adult Education Research Conference (pp. 51-55). Vancouver: University of British Columbia.
Eggen, P. D., & Kauchak, D. P. (2012). Educational psychology: Windows on classrooms. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Peason.
Ennis, R.H. (1987). A Taxonomy of Critical Thinking Skills and Despositions. New York: Freeman.
Glaserfeld, E. (1989). Constructivism in education. Oxford, England: Pergamon.
Hickman, L.A., Neubert, S. and Reich, K. (2009). John Dewey between pragmatism and constructivism. New York: Fordham University Press.
Lombardi, S. M. (2011). Internet Activities for a Preschool Technology Education Program Guided by Caregivers. Raleigh, North Carolina: North Carolina State University.
Shaffer, D. R., & Kipp, K. (2010). Developmental psychology: Childhood and adolescence. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.