Researcher and Science Communicator. He works in the field of The cognitive psychology of memory and learning. He is currently the Director of the International Science Teaching Foundation. He attended this Thursday V Conference on Educational Research and Innovation with presentation 'How to learn? A Brief Approach from Cognitive Science’
UIB will be present at these sessions [por este jueves] How do humans learn and what are the keys?
I’m going to talk about how we learn on a cognitive level, that is, what needs to happen in our minds in order for us to learn. The keys are our memory, that is, the ability to learn anything, not just the ability to learn by heart, but to understand anything, skills, concepts, ideas. It is primarily based on meaning so that we remember our experiences. Therefore, when we try to learn something, it is important to think about its meaning, connect it with what we know, interpret it in the light of our previous knowledge, and understand that learning is not just something. The process of acceptance, rather than the apparent reception, begins with information. It has to reach our brains, our experiences, but for us to actually learn it, what matters is what we do to interpret a problem, a situation. Learning is therefore a formative phenomenon rather than simply receptive.
What mistakes do we make while studying?
Some things aren’t done badly, they’re just not done well. The question is whether this learning is going to be sustained, transferable to new situations, and whether it is going to work. It depends on what we do when we start learning, so we learn things by heart that we don’t do well. Especially in school, we are led to understand what we are being asked to do, when in reality our ability to learn is based on meaning rather than concrete facts, learning things by heart. People don’t exactly remember our experiences, but what we do when we try to remember them is remember the meaning, context, and reconstruct the details at the time. So, when it comes to learning, what it’s all about is extracting information and giving it meaning. Learning by heart leads us to a very ephemeral learning. It is not good to think that learning consists of introducing information into our brain, in fact the most important thing to learn is what we do with that information in our brain and how we process it. As such, we know that many students devote themselves to reading and rereading, copying their notes, copying the textbook, and underlining and copying, when creating a summary is really a cut and paste. What they really need to do to make it more effective is to test themselves, try to explain what they’ve learned as they evaluate it.
Mathematics, languages, history are explained. Should there be a lesson that focuses on how to learn all those subjects?
I believe there shouldn’t be more subjects as there are already many [ríe]. But I think students should learn in all of them. I mean, look, in all these lessons, we ask them to learn, we give them access to learning material, we even tell them what activities to do to learn, but we don’t actually teach them how. Do. Good learning strategies help ensure that these efforts are more likely to pay off, thus avoiding frustration and discouragement in students that lead them to think that learning is not for them. .
In recent years there has been a lot of talk about gamification, that 3.0 education that makes students 'really’ learn. What do you think about this technique?
Gamifying motivational issues may have some merit, but it doesn’t make sense to propose that everything has to be this way. It is still a tool that helps facilitate motivation with certain learning objectives that may otherwise be difficult to achieve. The thing is, you have to be very careful not to confuse the fact that students are learning because motivation for one It’s nothing, motivation always has a goal, one is motivated to achieve something. Sometimes there are activities that motivate students, but actually their focus, motivating them, has nothing to do with the goal. Learn. Therefore, in any of these methods, it is only important to assume that students are motivated, engaged, and have learned because they have played the educational game and that it should be validated.
Are teachers responsible for young people not absorbing knowledge?
[Risas] No, I don’t think I’m guilty. In other words, it is not a question of guilt. When we talk to teachers about the science of learning and learning strategies, how we learn from cognitive science, and what we can do to learn better, they are always amazed at how we don’t know this. . Teachers are always very interested in it. So, if you have to point to one culprit, I think we scientists are the most guilty because we’ve known for decades and for some reason haven’t transferred it to people who can get it. The most benefit from it, who are the teachers, are the students. Scientists are encouraged to publish in scientific journals and university teaching, but not all activities to ensure that the knowledge generated reaches those who will benefit most from it.
Now everything seems to be brief, rushed or out of focus. Have students lost this ability?
No, they haven’t lost it, which is a very common misunderstood myth. It’s not that our attention spans have decreased, because our attention spans only change through evolution. What has changed is the environment, we now have many more distractions, and that is precisely the problem. Our focus hasn’t changed. What we have, but the environment presents us with many more challenges. For example, we can make an analogy with the fact that our brains have not changed because it would require an evolutionary change in terms of nutrition. Our brain urges us to eat fats and sugars, but knowing this we have started to exercise self-control. We know we have that tendency, but we’ve learned for health reasons and we don’t eat a hamburger every day. And the technology is the same. You have an attention system based on paying attention to any stimulus that is important, opportunity or danger. So this indicates that social information is very important to your goals, because one of your goals, which is to be a social person, is to gain the approval of the group, to feel supported, so any promise of social information that can influence you seems very attractive. Of course, before there were no cell phones, social life happened for a few hours, you went home, but now it doesn’t, so your brain hasn’t changed, what’s changed is that it’s a treacherous environment now. Of course we should do the same with food. Realize this and learn self-regulation.
Talk about distractions. In Mallorca, many schools have banned cell phones, and a group of parents has launched an effort to delay their use until age 16. What do you think it will achieve?
I believe abstinence is not the solution. Education is the solution. As with food, self-control must be learned. So I believe it’s not a question of banning, but rather of educating, and education means learning when the application is relevant and other times it isn’t. And there will be times in school where it is inappropriate, perhaps most of them, but there may be times when a mobile app is more interesting for certain learning activities. There are misconceptions that families send to school, and actually using technology in school can make us less anxious. Of concern is what is done outside of school where technology is not controlled. Don’t point to the use of technology in school, because the use of technology in education has a lot of potential. Myopia is another misunderstanding, it is not that screens cause myopia, we know that it can discourage long squinting, but of course, reading also causes myopia. [ríe]. So screens are understood to be a bad thing. for oneIf not, it’s the benefit you give them and the content you access.
He is a director of the International Science Teaching Foundation. What is the purpose of this foundation?
We work in research and development about learning, with the aim I mentioned earlier, to transfer scientific knowledge about how people learn and how people learn in classrooms. Our mission is mainly transfer, we try to contribute to this knowledge about how people learn to reach classrooms, and we do it through research on the one hand, but above all by improving training and resources to make it easier for teachers to use the methods. Well established in the classroom.