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Psychology Applied to Teaching, Eleventh Edition
Jack Snowman, Southern Illinois University
Robert Biehler
Chapter Themes
Chapter 8: Information Processing Theory

Information processing theory provides one perspective on how we store, retrieve, and learn information.
According to information processing theorists, we use three memory systems to process and store information. The first system, the sensory register, holds all incoming stimuli. However, due to its limited duration, only information that is attended to is passed on to short-term memory. Information in short-term memory is what we are currently thinking about. In order for information to move from short-term to long-term for permanent storage, individuals must utilize certain strategies such as rehearsal and elaboration.

Information processing theory provides a number of research-based strategies to enhance the learning process.
Educators can take advantage of information processing theory by understanding the various strategies that facilitate the storage and retrieval of information. Elaborative rehearsal, meaningful learning, and organizing material are three key strategies that help us transfer information from short-term memory to long-term memory. Elaborative rehearsal and meaningful learning involve making connections between new information and previously stored information to assist the learning of new material. Organizing material simply involves organizing information into groups or categories so that it can be processed more efficiently. Mnemonic devices, such as the loci and keyword methods, also facilitate information storage and retrieval.

Metacognition is essential for efficient learning.
Metacognition, which is our knowledge about our thinking, improves with age. Educators can assist children in becoming better informed about personally relevant thinking and learning strategies by providing students with well organized lessons and by giving them multiple opportunities to practice and reflect on their learning. Through these methods, teachers will assist children in becoming more strategic learners.

Information processing theory provides suggestions for teachers to help make material more accessible to students.
Using information processing theory, educators can assist their students in processing relevant information. There are a number of methods that educators can use for gaining student attention, for presenting information, and for facilitating learning by helping students develop and use useful learning strategies.

Technology can help teachers reach objectives related to student learning.
Computers can be used to help students organize new information for processing. Hypermedia and multimedia tools can be useful for seeing multiple points of views, making connections between content, and representing knowledge for dual coding. Some tools, such as LOGO, can also enhance students' metacognitive skills.