If you’re a newbie learning professional, you may not be familiar with the basics of learning science. Also known as instructional science or cognitive psychology, these theories describe how the brain and mind work and how people learn. Here are my top ten relevant facts about the brain to keep in mind when designing any learning experience.
Top Ten Principles of Learning Science
- What influences perception? Our perceptions are influenced by what we know, what we expect, and what we want to achieve.
- How does the brain organize perception? Our brains like to organize perceptions into meaningful units and patterns.
- At what speed does the brain work? Events in our brain happen rapidly and are measured in milliseconds (one thousandth of a second).
- How stable is attention? We can quickly shift our attention to whatever is most important in the environment.
- How can we influence attention? We pay attention to information that is meaningful and disregard what is not meaningful.
- What is working memory? Working memory is our online space for figuring things out in the moment.
- What is the capacity of working memory? Because working memory can manipulate 3 to 5 items at one time and because it has a short duration, it is considered a bottleneck in the learning process.
- Why is working memory small? Perhaps the advantage of a limited working memory is that it gives us the flexibility to quickly shift the focus of our attention and information processing.
- How big is long-term memory? Long-term memory is essentially infinite. No one knows its limits.
- What is long-term memory? Long-term memory refers to the brain’s ability to store a person’s knowledge, skills and experiences. Long-term memories are retrieved with the appropriate cues. Without the right retrieval cues, the information is difficult or impossible to access.