Understanding the human brain is crucial for effective learning…

So why don’t schools make use of more effective methods?

How has uPrep helped its students discover a passion for learning?

Good question! Lets begin by comparing our brain to a computer! Just as a modern day computer has temporary memory (RAM), so do we! Psychologists and Behavioral Neurologists call this our working memory.

On a daily basis, you’re bombarded with a mix of useful and not-so-useful information jumbled together. Our brains don’t have the capacity (nor patience) to deal with all this incoming information, so it tunes out information that isn’t useful to save ‘space’ for the things that are.

For example, when you sit down to work at a coffee shop, your brain tries its best to tune out the smell of coffee, the chatter of customers and employees, and the sounds of cars driving down the street.

It isn’t the best environment to work in, because of all the work your brain has to do in order to tune out the extra noise.

This interaction between your environment and the information you take in, is referred to as the information processing model.

How can this “information processing model” be used for effective learning?

Glad you asked! The information processing model is the basis of what scientists call cognitive loading theory. The information processing model proves that our brains working memory has a certain capacity to perform actions. If we can identify and divide our working memory into different parts, we can use our brain more efficiently! This division of our working memory into different sections can be referred to as our cognitive loads.

Our first division is called our intrinsic load. This refers to the cognitive power, or ‘effort’ that is required to grasp new and complex information. By simplifying complex information into understandable chunks, cognitive power can be saved for more important cognitive loads.

Our second division is referred to as our extraneous load. This refers to the cognitive power applied to distractions, or materials that are not your primary focus. For example, disorganized course notes, websites, and errors detract from focusing on the content begin taught. By minimizing distractions inside information in addition to external distractions, cognitive power can be saved for the last cognitive load.

The last and most important division referred to as our germane load. This is the cognitive power required to take new information and integrate it with previous knowledge and frameworks, referred to as schemas!

By saving a majority of our cognitive load for processing information by building on previous knowledge, concepts are more easily integrated into your long-term memory!

The complex topics we offer are purposefully broken down into a story, giving students a learning experience that naturally flows and builds in an intuitive way. Cognitive loading allows our students to grasp increasingly complex topics that schools believe cannot be understood by students of their age, or hard to learn individually.

What other strategies do you use?

Our higher-level courses we offer make use of interleaving and progressive overload in addition to cognitive loading.

Just like our muscles, our brains adapt to increasingly difficulty. Not only does this work at the gym, but for learning as well!

Not only are our assignments and lectures structured to progressively expand the stories we teach, hence progressive overload, but are structured to optimize your brain during lectures through a process called interleaving!

By switching up the tasks and question types at pre-determined times during the lecture, students remain engaged and have time to participate in a hands-on task allowing them to apply what they have learnt over the lesson.

Anything else?

One more thing! Rather than drilling students with the same questions using the same teaching methods, our educators use active feedback loops to continually improve lessons and assignments. This directly results in our students’ learning experience being constantly improved.

Oh, and did we mention that our students are grouped according to their learning type? There is so much more that the team at uPrep Academy would love to share with you. It would be honor to be a part of your journey towards your passion and a great future.

Sources

Atkinson, Richard C. and Richard M. Shiffrin. “Human Memory: A Proposed System and Its Control Processes” Scientists Making a Difference. Cambridge University Press, 2016.

Cramer, Natan, Noel S. Zuckerbraun, and Justin Puller. “Putting Theory to Practice: applying Cognitive Load Theory to Resident Medical Education” Pediatric Emergency Care, vol. 38, no. 2, 2022, pp.771-775

Fandl, Kevin, and Jamie Smith. Success as an Online Student: Strategies for Effective Learning. Routledge, London, 2013;2016;2014

Hai-Jew, Shlin. Profiling Target Learners for the Development of Effective Learning Strategies: Emerging Research and Opportunities. IGI Global, Hershey, 2019.

Hwan, Gwo-Jen, Chengjiu Yin, and Hui-Chun Chu. “The Era of Flipped Learning: Promoting Active LEarning and Higher Order Thinking with Innovative Flipped LEarning Strategies and Supporting Systems.” Interactive Learning Environments, vol. 27, no. 8, 2019, pp. 991-994.

Kirschner, Paul A., John Sweller, and Femke Kirschner. “From Cognitive Load Theory to Collaborative Cognitive Load Theory.” International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, vol. 13, no. 2, 2018, pp. 213-233

Lyapin, Alexandr, and Olga Kalinina. Digital Technologies in Teaching and Learning Strategies: Proceedings of DTTLS-2021, vol. 56, Springer International Publishing AG, Cham, 2022.

Roediger, Henry L., and Andrew C. Butler. “The Critical Role of Retrieval Practice in Long-Term Retention. Trends in Cognitive Sciences.” Trends in Cognitive Sciences, vol. 15, no. 1, 2011, pp. 20-27