How Learning Works: Organizing Knowledge


Experts sometimes organize information differently from novices. Experts also sometimes organize information in multiple ways. An example given and revisited throughout the chapter is an Anatomy and Physiology professor who thinks about systems of the body both in terms of location and function. The professor is frustrated that students seem to only think about the systems in terms of location. The chapter closes with some ideas to help teachers to help students learn to organize information in a field like experts organize the information. As before some tips are probably done by almost all veteran teachers. I noticed a couple things I could do to maybe improve lessons.

This leads me to the following new goals (in green) to add to my list for prepping next semester. I also should organize these into once-a-semester, daily, and for-specific-topics sections for use next semester.

  • Write a concept map of my own thinking to see how an expert organizes the information and select tasks that help convey that organization.
  • Explicitly overview the lesson plan for a section so that students can see how each part fits in
  • Math 081 and Math 131: On the second day give a pre-assessment of required skills and start remediation immediately.
  • Math 081: Use brainstorming more often to see what students know about a topic in the course the first time it is introduced. (The Math 081 curriculum is a lot like a “spiral”  where key topics like proportion are revisited several times.)
  • Math 081 and Math 131: Explicitly list the pre-requisite topics daily instead of less frequently
  • Math 131: Introduce several “Rules of Thumb” in the finance chapter so students will know when they are dealing with loans, when annuities, when saving for retirement . . .

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