Deep processing and shallow processing are two different ways of absorbing knowledge. Learn why deep processing matters in proper learning.
Why We Need To Engage In Deep Processing
But in order to learn, the brain needs to process information deeply, and studies show that we can’t gain any sort of new skill or expertise without really engaging in an idea or skill or bit of knowledge.
You can be motivated to learn but if you use a shallow strategy, you won’t learn,” Psychologist Stephen Chew
Processing Information Meaningfully
Some time ago, Chew sent Ulrich an email, giving an example of how the brain needs to meaningfully process information in order to learn it. He makes the point that people need to find information meaningful in order to really gain any sort of expertise and describes an informal experiment that he’ll do with audiences.
With Chew’s permission, here is Chew’s description in full:
“I give workshops to various groups (faculty, student life staff, students, and tutors) on how people learn to help teachers teach more effectively, students learn more effectively, and support staff and tutors teach students to learn more effectively. In my workshop, I almost always include a demonstration of deep processing and learning that is based on research first published in 1969 by Thomas Hyde and Jim Jenkins (who was my grad school advisor).
“The amazing thing to me is that this simple principle has been well-established for about 45 years but is largely unknown outside cognitive psychology. And even most cognitive psychologists have never thought about its implications for teaching.
If you use a deep processing strategy, you will learn whether you intend to or not.”
Pleasantness vs. Checking For An ‘E’
“The other half of the audience checks “Yes” if the word is pleasant to them or “No” if it is not. So half are getting E/G checking and the other half are getting Pleasantness rating. Now half of each of those groups is warned that they will be asked to recall as many of the 24 words as possible after the task is over. The other half are not warned. This creates 4 groups, based on the kind of task they do and whether or not they were warned about recall.
The amazing thing to me is that this simple principle has been well-established for about 45 years but is largely unknown outside cognitive psychology.”
“I read the list of 24 words and everyone carries out their orienting task. After reading all the words, I then ask everyone to recall as many of the words as possible. When they can’t recall any more, they count up how many they recalled. We then do a poll to find out which of the four groups recalled the most words.
Good intentions cannot overcome bad study strategies.”
“I sum it up by saying that ‘Good intentions cannot overcome bad study strategies” So teachers need to think of their teaching assignments and activities as orienting tasks, and students need to think of their note taking and studying in terms of depth of processing.