Assignment 3 – Cognitive Science to Enhance Learning

I have been working on the 3rd assignment for PIDP 3100, researching a variety of topics associated with the science of learning.  The article I chose for my assignment was “Four Principles of Memory Improvement: A guide to Improving Learning Efficiency” Schwartz, Son, Kornell and Finn.  You can find the article here.  A core element I selected in this article dealt with the use of distributed practice.  What does that mean?

Distributed practice speaks to the difference in depth and retention of learning when information is studied in chunks, over time — in other words not in a constant drill, or in a cramming study session prior to an exam.  After I finished working on my paper it got me to thinking about the efforts made by people who are learning how to dance, and how basic steps are learned, practiced, then combined and built upon to make up the wonderful expression of movement in the form of dance.

In my review of videos to capture what I was thinking of I found this mashup of black and white dance segments put to contemporary music — Bruno Mars, to be exact.  It is interesting how the movement can mesh with the right rhythm, and if you watch some of the steps, how you can see the simple steps combined in a complicated fashion to craft the full dance movement.  There is a snippet of Shirley Temple and Bojangles Robinson, which resonated for me as I included an example of moving up and down using stairs as a metaphor for stages and steps up and down that an instructor takes to provide a rich learning activity that spaces certain elements of the subject being covered during the learning activity.  And, consider when you watch the dancers how there are a finite number of dance steps — it’s all in how you combine them with the movement of the body.

Here is the video:

Maslow – Hierarchy of Needs

Maslows-hierarchy-of-needs is associated with the Humanist Theory of Adult Learning.   As part of my course work in PIDP 3100 we are looking at a variety of theories and this one really resonates for me.  Some of my web surfing led me to a brief summary of Humanist theorists at

maslows-hierarchy-of-needsThe diagram at the left reflects the stages Maslow developed to describe the evolutionary path the adult learner travels.  Note, the foundation is based on physical and personal safety needs (food/clothing/shelter then safety).  It is after those needs are addressed that the engagement with community and “belongingness” becomes important to the individual.  I think this theory is very important because if an individual does not feel safe, is worried where the next meal is going to come from, and does not have a safe place to sleep, refresh and prepare for the next day they will be very distracted by these basis needs not being met — it will eclipse any opportunity presented in a learning environment and result in lower performance and potentially no engagement by the students — child or adult.  My first reflective assignment for PIDP 3100 focuses on the humanist learning theories – an area of great interest for me.  On future blog entries I will be writing a little more about the work of Carl Rogers – another noted Humanist.