Reflections, Insights, and Realizations

Information Processing Theories

  • In terms of your ability to learn, are there ways that you wish you were more like a computer? Or are you better than any computer in all aspects of processing information? Explain.

Information processing theory examines human learning from the same perspective as a computer processing data.  Information is received, stored, and later retrieved.  Capacity and speed are important to both learning and computers.

One advantage a computer has over humans is unlimited attention.  As stated in the module, attention is a limited resource for humans.  Computers can process multiple tasks simultaneously (divided attention), such as keyboard intake, date and time, and Wi-Fi connectivity without sacrificing quality.  Computers don’t get distracted.

Primal needs and emotion are also human characteristics that have an impact on information processing.  If I really have to pee, it’s safe to assume my attention won’t be focused on the lesson at hand.  Until that need is satiated, it will dominate my thoughts.  Furthermore, if I’m stressed or tired, my capacity for learning new information will be greatly compromised.  So long as a computer has an ample power supply, it will attend every task with the same power and focus.  Human error is a part of life, but computers are designed to work every time.

But I still wouldn’t want to process info like a computer.  When presented with new information, every person brings a unique perspective because of his or her own previous experiences and understanding (declarative memory).  This diversity in processing can foster creativity, innovation and deeper understanding.  Computers can only analyze what is directly presented, while humans can intake information on a variety of levels (what a teacher is saying, how other students respond, declarative memory, sensory intake).


  •  Who was your first teacher? What was your first classroom like? What is you remotest childhood memory? How long did it take you to retrieve those information? What does that reveal about the nature of long-term memory?

I can easily recall my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Ronchetto.  Her classroom was warm and bright with a really cool play kitchen area.  I distinctly remember the wooden coat cubbies in the back of the room and the black felt board my teacher used to tell stories.  I remember accidentally poking myself in the eye when trying to tell a classmate I liked his new haircut with buzzed temples.  These memories come racing back to me because they are declarative (episodic) in nature.  They are always present but they are unconscious until the question posed in the prompt sparked my recollection.  Long-term memories can endure for an extended period.  The memories I recall are already 20 years old, yet I can conjure up mental images in a matter of moments.


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