Now that we've had a chance to learn about the field of the learning sciences, and how evidence about human learning is generated. In this module, we'll examine several overarching theoretical frames about how people learn. In this lesson, we'll talk about cognitive theories, are theories that describe the individual processes occurring in someone's brain. Then we'll look at factors outside of oneself that influence learning, including contextual theories, and social cognitive theory. Finally, we'll discuss behaviorism, or how people respond to their environments. Let's dive into cognitive theories. As you sit and listen to this lecture, what's going on in your brain? What do you perceive as you consider this information? What we perceive, colors our understanding of the world, and our perceptions can vary. The classic joke in my extended family with all of us being from the country, is when visiting for the city for the first time and realizing that the bangs you occasionally hear are not fireworks or someone hunting, but crime. When we think about science outreach, the people we are trying to reach also bring prior knowledge and experiences that color their perception of what we're trying to do as science communicators. Individuals who aren't confident in their ability to engage with science material, are immediately less likely to engage. And that the first introduction to a topic that they don't understand, will shut down and stop engaging. People with prior beliefs that scientists are the bad guys in society will be biased against what we say. And it's very important to be aware of possible biases and intentionally designed experiences to not reinforce negative beliefs or biases. We'll go more into depth with bias and how to manage bias or phenomenon, like motivated reasoning in your science communication endeavors, in module three. Prior beliefs and other biases plan to a phenomenon called top-down processing. Top-down processing is when prior knowledge or experiences color the input of new information. Triggers or some kind of stimulus that causes an emotional response, can cause an audience's mind to wander to other topics and ultimately to stop listening to you. Although it can be difficult to anticipate everything that could trigger someone, it is important to remember that not everyone has had positive experiences in science classrooms. For our outrage to be effective, it is necessary to be mindful that we need to try and build positive associations with science content. Alright, so now that we've talked about perceptions, how about attention? Are you paying attention to this video, or are you browsing social media? Chasing your kids around, cooking dinner, cognitive psychologists don't agree on what attention is. We have an understanding of what it is, and what it means to pay attention, but what does it really mean to pay attention? It's easy to think of attention as a limited resource, and the more it is split among tasks, the more overall performance decreases. One of the biggest challenges with online learning is overcoming demands for students attention at the computer, which you're probably very familiar with. Attention is related to cognitive load theory, the idea that very difficult tasks require a great deal of our attention, and that we can only attend to a certain amount of new information at any one time. Difficult task, need of the amount we can manage, or the amount of things that we pay attention to can overwhelm our attention. Note the design of this course, there are no busy slides to look at. There's only key terms or some kind of representational picture that appear behind me on the screen, this is intentional. The more that you see or hear, the more your attention is split, and the consequently, the more load. We'll come back to this idea many times throughout the specialization. What we perceive, is related to what we pay attention to, what we pay attention to, is going to then dictate what we remember. In terms of memory, there's both short-term or your working memory, and long-term memory. Working memory is where whatever we're paying attention to at any given moment, exists in our brain while we're grappling with it. For example, you may be grappling with the definition of working memory that I just gave you. Working memory or short-term memory is very brief and only last about 15to 30 seconds. Unless you do something with that knowledge, like take notes, or repeat a phone number and address to yourself, that knowledge is gone. If we want to remember something later, we need to move it from short-term memory into long-term memory. And this is ultimately what we want from our science outreach, or communication, or education endeavors. We want some kind of positive association or content that makes it into long-term memory. Memories are represented in the brain by a group of cells called neurons. New neurons may form in a particular region called the hippocampus as we learn. Much of our working memory occurs in the prefrontal cortex, and when we learn something new, we create new patterns or neuronal connections within our brain. When we practice or rehearse something, it strengthens these connections. Getting things into long-term memory, is directly related to a strategies for effective learning. For example, repetition is important for learning new information, that's why during any outreach endeavor, it can be very fruitful to repeat key points. That's also I think that go viral on the media tend to be remembered better, because people see them over, and over, and over again. Unfortunately, this is also the same phenomenon that allows mis and disinformation to persist as well. So this is an example of how repetition works in the opposite direction, social media, political ads, repeating scientific information. So it's very important that the messages that we want to repeat are clearly, loudly, and accurately presented. Active learning activities, like asking audience members to elaborate on something that you said, can also be useful for moving information into long-term memory. This also helps an individual add meaningful features to their own memories. These meaningful features will then help that person remember things better. This strategy can be used, for example by including how or why questions as part of an outreach experience. Using concrete examples, particularly relatable examples, which is what biology everywhere is all about, is also a way of helping your science content feel more accessible and easier to understand. This again increases the chances that it will stick in long-term memory. Using a variety of examples is also a good idea. Different examples will be more or less accessible to different audience members, based on their prior experiences. An individual has prior knowledge they can build on, this facilitates the learning of new material. Pictures are also easier to remember than words, and the best Powerpoint presentations are just a series of straightforward pictures, or pictures with very, very few words. This helps you to learn without adding too much cognitive load, will come back to this idea many times throughout the specialization as well. When considering how memory works, it isn't surprising that research suggests that when it comes to learning, less is more. Focusing your outreach endeavors around one key take home message, or objective, is more effective for promoting transfer or the ability to take that knowledge and apply it into a new setting. Studying a few things in details and engaging in meaningful learning, means that individuals are more likely to be able to use that knowledge in a new context. We are cognitive creatures, so how we think, process, perceive, and attend, and remember information is all very important to how we learn. We'll also spend more time on bias and how that influences learning in module three. This is another cognitive concept that's very important for the design of effective science communication. This isn't the last we're going to hear about cognitive processes and that specialization. We're going to come back to a particular phenomenon called bias in module three. And this is such an important cognitive concept for attending to in the design of effective science communication, that have given it it's own module. For now though, we're going to turn to how what's going on around us influences our learning. First with contextual theories, and then social cognitive theories of learning.