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INFORMATION PROCESSING


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Information processing, as a thinking skill, involves the brain receiving information (by seeing it, hearing it, touching it, smelling it ... or through a combination of the four senses) from the environment and providing means for acessing (i.e., storing and retrieving) that information for future use. Teachers who have the purpose of teaching for higher-level/skillful thinking need to provide opportunities for their students to learn and practice appropriate information processing skills. If the teacher uses Bloom's (1956) cognitive taxonomy as their guide for higher-level thinking, knowledge and comprehension (and perhaps application) focus at the skill of information processing. From Gagne's (date) eight conditions of learning, signal learning, stimulus-response learning, chaining, and verbal association (and perhaps discrimination learning) focus at the skill of information processing.

An excellent way to provide opportunities for practicing information processing skills in the classroom comes from the first four of Marzano, et al.'s (1988) core thinking skills. These include focusing skills, information gathering skills, remembering skills, and organizing skills.

Focusing skills are skills that help an individual attend to selected bits and pieces of information. Focusing skills involve (1) defining the problem (clarifying the situation) and (2) setting goals (establishing direction and purpose).

Information-gathering skills are skills that enable an individual to bring to consciousness the substance or content to be used for cognitive processing. Information-gathering skills involve (1) observing (obtaining/collecting new information from the environment) and (2) formulating questions (clarifying issues and meaning through inquiry).

Remembering skills are activities or strategies that are used to store information in long-term memory and to retrieve information from long-term memory. Remembering skills involve (1) encoding (linking bits of information for long term storage) and (2) recalling. Encoding skills include rehearsal (repeating associations over and over to establish links), and mnemonics. Recalling strategies are generall unplanned and unsystematic. The can occur at any point (consciously or unconsciously) in the learning process. Recall strategies include activating prior knowledge and retrieval of prior knowledge.

Organizing skills are skills necessary to arrange information so it can be understood or presented more effectively. Organizing skills include (1) comparing (identifying similarities and differences), (2) classifying -- or categorizing (grouping items into categories based on similar attributes),(3) ordering (sequencing in some logical manner), and representing (changing the form of information to show how critical elements are related. These changes could be visual, verbal, or symbolic).

References to Bloom (1956) , Gagne (date), and Marzano, et al. (1988) can be found in the Micro-strategies section of this web site or on the reference list in the Resources section.