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Organizing new information

There are many ways to organize new information that are especially well-suited to teacher-directed instruction. A common way is simply to ask students to outline information read in a text or heard in a lecture. Outlining works especially well when the information is already organized somewhat hierarchically into a series of main topics, each with supporting subtopics or subpoints. Outlining is basically a form of the more general strategy of taking notes , or writing down key ideas and terms from a reading or lecture. Research studies find that that the precise style or content of notes is less important that the quantity of notes taken: more detail is usually better than less (Ward&Tatsukawa, 2003). Written notes insure that a student thinks about the material not only while writing it down, but also when reading the notes later. These benefits are especially helpful when students are relatively inexperienced at school learning in general (as in the earlier grade levels), or relatively inexperienced about a specific topic or content in particular. Not surprisingly, such students may also need more guidance than usual about what and how to write notes. It can be helpful for the teacher to provide a note-taking guide, like the ones shown in Exhibit 1.

Two note taking guides

Notes on science experiment

  1. Purpose of the experiment (in one sentence):
  2. Equipment needed (list each item and define any special terms):
  3. Procedure used (be specific!):
  4. Results (include each measurement, rounded to the nearest integer):
    Observation #1
    Observation #2
    Observation #3
    Observation #4
    Average measurement, #1-4:

Guide to notes about Tale of Two Cities:

  1. Main characters (list and describe in just a few words):
  2. Setting of the story (time and place):
  3. Unfamiliar vocabulary in the story (list and define):
  4. Plot (write down only the main events):
  5. Theme (or underlying “message”) of the story:

In learning expository material, another helpful strategy—one that is more visually oriented—is to make concept maps , or diagrams of the connections among concepts or ideas. Exhibit 5 shows concept maps made by two individuals that graphically depict how a key idea, child development, relates to learning and education. One of the maps was drawn by a classroom teacher and the other by a university professor of psychology (Seifert, 1991). They suggest possible differences in how the two individuals think about children and their development. Not surprisingly, the teacher gave more prominence to practical concerns (for example, classroom learning and child abuse), and the professor gave more prominence to theoretical ones (for example, Erik Erikson and Piaget). The differences suggest that these two people may have something different in mind when they use the same term, child development. The differences have the potential to create misunderstandings between them (Seifert, 1999; Super&Harkness, 2003). By the same token, the two maps also suggest what each person might need to learn in order to achieve better understanding of the other person’s thinking and ideas.

A teacher's concept map, connecting social problems, drug use, growth, child development, and much more. A university professor's concept map, significantly different from that of the teacher, with fields such as social relations, school, information processing, and moral development.
Maps of personal definitions of “child development”

Parallel distributed processing

Concept maps have their origin in the Parallel Distributed Processing (PDP) model, also called the Connectionist Model , of memory (McClelland&Rumelhart, 1981). The PDP model is based on the premise that our memory system consists of an interconnected series of nodes , or concepts. Our understanding of an individual concept depends on the connections made between that node and other nodes. For instance, child development is a node in the concept maps above. Each individual's understanding of child development depends on the nodes that are connected to the child development node. If the child development node was not connected to other nodes, the individual would not know anything about child development.

According to the PDP model, our memory system functions through the activation of nodes. When a node is activated, turned on, it becomes accessible to your conscious thought. A node can be activated by an external stimulus, such as a test question on child development, or by another node. When a node is turned on it activates the nodes connected to it. The node causing the activation is called a prime and its activation of other nodes is called the priming effect . The activation of nodes acts in a cascading way, with each activated node activating the nodes connected to it. For instance, in concept map “a” above the activation of child development would result in the activation of theorists, learning, growth, and social problems. Each of these nodes would activate the nodes connected to them. For instance, theorists would activate Freud, Erickson, and Piaget. This cascading series of activations is called spreading activation . The parallel part of the Parallel Distributed Processing model represents the fact that all this activation occurs at the same time (i.e., in parallel).

In the classroom, the PDP model is used when teachers introduce new topics by asking students to recall related information that they already know. For instance, a teacher might start a lecture on Piaget by asking students to recall the definition of child development. Recalling the definition of child development will activate a student’s nodes related to child development, allowing them to make connections between Piaget and other concepts they know related to child development.


McClelland, J. L.&Rumelhart, D. E. (1981). An interactive activation model of context effects in letter perception: Part 1. An account of basic findings. Psychological Review, 88, 375-407.

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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