Information Processing Theory in CTE
By: Melissa Leonard

The Information Processing Theory explains the way in which humans learn.

General Information about the Information Processing Theory:
  • There is a limited mental capacity
  • There is a two way flow of information (information gathering and information retrieval from memory)
  • There are three ways to store information. Storage includes sensory memory, short term memory, and long term memory.

How the Information Processing Model works:
Information is gathered from the envirionment through the sensory register (sensory motor). In order for information to enter the short term memory (working memeory) from the sensory register, it must be attended to by the senses. Information that is not attended to is lost and never enters the short term memory. The short term memory is very limited. In order to keep information here it needs to be rehearsed (rote memorization). Rote memorization is not an effective way to move information to the long term memory. However, by using the correct methods, information can be moved from the short term memory into the long term memory where it can be kept for long periods of time. Information that is stored in the long term memory does not need to be rehearsed. To retrieve information from the long term memory, working memory must be used. Usually if someone "forgets" something that is stored in the long term memory, they have simply forgotten how to retrieve it or where it is stored.

Information Processing Model

Strategies for Moving Information into Long Term Memory:
In order for information to move from working memory, it must be attended within 5 to 20 seconds of entering. Information must be linked to prior knowledge and encoded in order to be permanently stored in long term memory. Some encoding methods include chunking, imagery, mnemonics, schema activation, and level of processing.

How to Use the Information Processing Model in the Classroom:
1. Gain students' attention. Example: Gain attention before providing information, move around the room, voice fluctuations, etc.
2. Ask students to recall prior relevant learning. Example: review of previous day's material.
3. Point out important information. Example: information on the board, handouts, study guides, etc.
4. Organizing information. Example: present information starting at simiple and moving to more complex.
5. Categorize related information. Example: Present information in a logical sequence and teach students to look for similarities and differences.
6. Have students relate new information. Example: Connect new information with something that is already known.
7. Teaching encoding for memorizing lists. Example: mnemonics and imagery.
8. Repetition of learning. Example: Present information in many different ways and provide many ways for students to manipulate information.
9. Overlearning. Example: Daily practice drills.

Research Articles: