Understanding Children and Young People

Application of Information Processing Theory to teaching

One of the primary areas of cognition studies is the memory. The information processing theory is developed on the idea that humans process information they receive in the manner of computer and not by merely responding to stimuli. According to the proposed model, information is processed through a sequence of steps (Acquah, 2017). The memory has three stages – sensory, short-term, and long-term memory. When using the information processing theory, the assumption is that the student takes in the information and the memory briefly stores it in the sensory memory, then moved to the short-term memory and later forgotten or stored in the long-term memory. Since information processing starts at the sensory memory, it is important to focus on the elements that are most likely to be more significant, which occurs through attention. Attention is critical in that it selects information, which becomes available to the memory. The second stage is the short-term memory, which has a longer duration and limited capacity. The last stage is the long-term memory, where information is stored for a long-term and stores all previous knowledge and information learned by an individual. Long-term memory takes the form of a permanent store, where the information resides in a dormant state until it is fetched back into consciousness. 

Teaching Application of Information Processing Model

The information processing theory has definite educational implications for students with learning or behavior problem. The theory can be applied to modify the learning environment and the instructional strategies to meet the needs of special needs students’ attention and perception of the information (Kandarakis & Poulos, 2008). For instance, school-based interventions for students with ADHD involve several modifications to the classroom environment, instructional strategies, home-based programs, and self-management interventions. The behavior of learners with ADHD lacks coordination, planning, proper reasoning, and purpose. Children with ADHD are less likely to have control over their behavior through self-directed speech and require control from others. In this case, the instructions provided for students with ADHD should be clear and delivered in a visible and external presentation. The behavioral correction and consequences for a child with ADHD should be of higher attitude and delivered more frequently to correct their deficits. When working with other special needs learners, the information processing theory will inform the instructional setting in the following ways. The teacher should be able to recognize the warning signs of a working memory failure, monitor the child to provide effective support and evaluate the workload of the learning activities. The teacher should be ready to repeat, provide memory aids, and help the child develop strategies for supporting memory.

The relationship between working Memory, Schematic Encoding, and Cognitive Load

Working memory is the retention of small amounts of information in a readily accessible format and often used to execute cognitive tasks. According to Cowan (2014), the working memory is one of the widely used terms in psychology and facilitates planning, comprehension of information, reasoning, and helps in the problem-solving process. Researchers have emphasized the possibility of training the working memory to improve the learning process. Drawing upon existing literature, the relationship between the working memory, schematic encoding, and the cognitive load is enigmatic. Several attempts have been made to explain the relationship between working memory and cognitive load. Firstly, cognitive load refers to the limited capacity of the working memory system and the various types of tasks differ based on the amount of attention required to process the tasks successfully. The cognitive load theory introduces three types of loads – intrinsic, extrinsic, and germane (Debue, van, & Debue, 2014). Intrinsic load refers to the inherent complexity of a task, while extrinsic refers to the elements related to the presentation of a task. The germane load encompasses the load related to processing or understanding of a task. Notably, the intrinsic memory is devoted to the amount of information that a student needs to learn and the germane load is devoted to the processing of the information learned. The intrinsic load cannot be manipulated and instructors must understand how to limit the extrinsic and germane load to ensure the working memory retains this information. Going back to the relationship between the working memory and cognitive load, the more amount of information students need to hold in their working memory, the more the cognitive load. For instance, within the instructional setting, if a teacher points at objects, while teaching, the students will get a better representation of the instructions meaning they will not require to hold this representation in their working memory, which translates to reduced cognitive load. 

Importance of Understanding this Relationship

Remarkably, most educators do not know how the mind works. Nonetheless, with the extensive curriculum, technology, and need to deal with children from different backgrounds, it is important for teachers to understand the relationship between working memory and cognitive load. For instance, with the widespread use of technological tools such as computers in the classroom, students have an increased cognitive load. The increased tasks have the potential to affect student performance. Consequently, when working with students from different backgrounds, some children may lack knowledge in some of the basic things that are known by other students. The lack of basic knowledge or experience increases their cognitive load, which increases the amount of information required to be in their working memory.  

Development of Vision in Infancy and its Importance to Learning and Development across the Lifespan

Development is change or growth that occurs in the life of a child from birth through infancy to adolescence and later adulthood. The changes occur in an orderly sequence and involve physical, cognitive, and emotional development. According to Murray, Jones, Kuh, and Richards (2007), developmental milestones in infancy are associated with cognitive function later in life. Drawing upon the assessment question, we explore the concept of epigenetics to understand how the development of vision in infancy, including acuity, color perception, depth perception, face perception, and object perception contributes to learning and development across the lifespan. In its simplest definition, epigenetics of the cellular and molecular process that governs gene functions. According to Mustard (2010), the effects of the epigenetics on gene function begins at conception and continues even after birth. In order to understand epigenetics in gene expression, take for example identical twins. Although the DNA in their neurons in the same, they are less likely to have the same experience. In fact, identical twins are likely to have a 20 to 30 percent behavioral difference in adulthood, which Mustard associates to epigenetic effects on the neuron function in early development.

The visual world of young infants is often fragmented and unstable and consists of objects that move in unpredictable ways. Infants learn the visual world through association, active assembly, and visual-manual exploration. Ideally, the development of vision in infancy is associated with learning and memory. A great deal of information is acquired through visual orientation, color perception, depth perception, face perception, or object perception. Relating this to learning and development, we take an example of face stimuli. Over the course of development, the parietal-premotor mirror circuits are reshaped and refined when a child maintains facial contact.  The hypothetical changes occur in premotor mirror neurons of the infant during such social interactions (Ferrari, Tramacere, Simpson, & Iriki, 2013). The result is the modification of the underlying neuronal circuits and development trajectories. The brain is trained to respond to a set of social stimuli, which in this case are facial expressions. Thus, the development of vision in infancy significantly contributes to the learning and development across the lifespan, as what is learned is stored in the long-term memory and a child can retrieve it into the working memory when proper trigger reactions are initiated. Within the instructional guidance for early childhood learners, understanding epigenetics will help the instructors understand that what they teach the children as well as the learning environment will significantly impact their learning and development across their lifespan.


Acquah, A. (2017). Using the Information Processing Approach to Explain the Mysteries of the Black Box: Implications for Teaching Religious and Moral Education. Journal of Information Engineering and Applications, 7(7), 1-4.

Cowan, N. (2014). Working Memory Underpins Cognitive Development, Learning, and Education. Educational Psychology Review, 26(2), 197-223.

Debue, N., van, L. C., & Debue, N. (2014). What does germane load mean? An empirical contribution to the cognitive load theory. Frontiers in Psychology, 5(9).

Ferrari, P. F., Tramacere, A., Simpson, E. A., & Iriki, A. (2013). Mirror neurons through the lens of epigenetics. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 17, 9, 450-7.

Kandarakis, A. G., Poulos, M. S. (2008). Teaching Implications of Information Processing Theory and Evaluation Approach of learning Strategies using LVQ Neural Network. WSEAS Transactions on Advances in Engineering Education, 5(3), 111-119.

Murray, G. K., Jones, P. B., Kuh, D., & Richards, M. (2007). Infant developmental milestones and subsequent cognitive function. Annals of Neurology, 62(2), 128-136.

Mustard, J. F. (2010). Importance of early childhood development. Council for Early Child Development. Retrieved from: http://www.child-encyclopedia.com/importance-early-childhood-development/according-experts/early-brain-development-and-human

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