Assignment Preview

Title: The Biology of Learning

 

 

 

Assignment Goals
Source Material
Student Instructions
Guiding Questions
Writing Prompt
Calibrations, Average Word Count, and Answer Keys

Assignment Goals

For this assignment the student is asked to:

1. Understand the difference between information and knowledge.

2. Carefully consider the brain changes that accompany learning and how best to facilitate these changes.

3. Understand the two components of learning.

4. Understand how repetition and elaboration aid memory.

5. Take the Learning Styles Survey and establish what your learning style is. Consider new study methods and strategies suggested by the Learning Styles Survey.

6. Review the methods and strategies of study and apply them to your particular learning style.


Write an essay that relates the learning biology of your brain to the study methods and strategies you use. Discuss how you might change, organize, or otherwise improve your study strategies in light of any new knowledge gained from the"Biology of Learning," "Learning Styles Survey" and other assigned resources.

Source Material

"The Biology of Learning" by Dr. Stephen Londe is the main resource and is the basis of the assignment.

DVC Online Learning Style Survey for College (http://www.metamath.com/lsweb/dvclearn.htm) This resource was prepared by learning specialists at Diablo Valley College. You are asked to take the Learning Styles Survey to see what kinds of things might help you assimilate and comprehend course material.

Sleep web site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleeping An interesting overview of the "science" of sleep with some additional references.

"The Brain from top to bottom" http://www.thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/index_d.html
epecially important: memory http://www.thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/i/i_07/i_07_cr/i_07_cr_tra/i_07_cr_tra.htm#2 This is a good website about the brain and its function. It is written at several levels and is a great introduction to this complex field.

"How Not to Plagiarize" - Here's a brief overview on plagiarism and how not to do it. URL: http://http://www.utoronto.ca/writing/plagsep.html

"Tips for Writing Essays" - A short and VERY basic primer for proper essay construction. A paragraph (which is what you are to write in THIS assignment) is much like an essay, but the first sentence introduces the concept, each following sentence develops your arguments, and the final sentence is a conclusion. URL: http://www.infoplease.com/homework/hwessays.html

Raims, Ann: "Keys for Writers". 4th Edition; Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company; March 30, 2004. A very good general writing manual reference for all writing. (Optional)

 

Source Material Resources:

The Biology of Learning - assignment resource
URL: http://cpr.molsci.ucla.edu/cpr/data/institutions/901229/0621084959/062208508090/perm/resources/res001/file/The Biology of Learning June 06.pdf

 

 

DVC Online Style Survey for College - his resource was prepared by learning specialists at Diablo Valley College. You are asked to take the Learning Styles Survey to see what kinds of things might help you assimilate and comprehend course material.
 

 

 

The Brain from top to bottom - The Brain from top to bottom www.thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/index_d.html Especially important: This is a good website about the brain and its function. It is written at several levels and is a great introduction to this complex field.
URL: http://www.thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/index_d.html

 

 

The Brain: How Memory Works - The Brain from top to bottom Especially important:Memory This is a good website about the brain and its function. It is written at several levels and is a great introduction to this complex field.
 

 

 

Sleep Website - An interesting overview of the "science" of sleep with some additional references.
 

 

 

Tips for Writing Essays - Tips for Writing Essays - A short and VERY basic primer for proper essay construction. A paragraph (which is what you are to write in THIS assignment) is much like an essay, but the first sentence introduces the concept, each following sentence develops your arguments, and the final sentence is a conclusion. (Optional)
 

 

 

How Not to Plagiarize - Here's a brief overview on plagiarism and how not to do it. This will be available as a pdf file on eCOmpanion.
 

 

 

HTML formatting for CPR - - This is a short HTML primer for cpr essays.
 

 

 

 

Student Instructions

Your 400-1200 word essay should be based on information from the article by Dr. Londe, "The Biology of Learning." posted on eCompanion. Make sure you read it carefully. Take some notes or outline the information for use in your essay.

Take the "Learning Styles Survey" and then compare the reccomended study methods and strategies in both of these resources to your present methods of study. Here take some notes on the study method suggestions for use in your essay.

Describe in your essay any changes in method or strategy of study that you might adopt based on these two resources.

Follow the Guiding questions.

Think about how best to organize your essay in response to the Writing Prompts.

Check your essay completeness by doing a preliminary calibration using the calibration questions, which are posted on eCompanion.

Guiding Questions

1.     What is the difference between information and knowledge?

2. What is learning and what are the two components of learning?

3. What are the changes in the brain brought about by the process of learning?

4. What are the two main strategies of remembering?

5. What are short-term, long-term, and working memory?

6. What are the study methods suggested to facilitate learning?

7. What are some strategies to facilitate learning, make learning more efficient, and provide the best conditions for learning?

Writing Prompt

Write a short essay of 400 - 5000 WORDS briefly summarizing the biology of learning and how it might affect your personal strategies for performing well at the college level. Be sure to use your own words -- don't just cut and paste from the articles (that is plagiarism and will result in automatic F with additional serious academic consequences!). Address all the issues raised in the writing prompt. Ensure you INCLUDE EACH of the following in your final (submitted) essay in separate paragraphs.

The grading scheme will address the topics and how they're presented, and you will lose points if you fail to follow instructions properly.

Write the essay according to the general guidelines provided. Keep this at hand for frequent referral as necessary. Your essay should clearly demonstrate that you have read and understood the source material. Use the calibration questions posted for you on eCompanion to assess completness of your essay before submitting it.

1. Summarize the main points in the article "The Biology of Learning." Explain how brain biology relates to methods of study especially your present methods of study. Explain what new methods you might use.

2. Take the "Learning Styles Survey" and include in your essay, strategies you might employ to do well in college. If you already use all these strategies, indicate which ones have worked well for you in the past.

3. Add any of your own ideas to this mix. It is important for you to express your ideas, find a common theme for your introduction, and then organize it all logically. Creativity is prized.

4. Use some of the information in the "Biology of Learning" and the "Learning Styles Survey" as they relate to you and explain how you might add to or change your study habits.

5. Do the web sites on sleep and the brain add any useful information? Include it in your discussion.

6. In summary, there should be about FIVE OR MORE PARAGRAPHS: Introductory, "Biology of Learning" including information and how it relates to the your study methods, "Learning Styles Survey" including information and how it relates to the your study methods, a paragraph containing pertinent information from the a sleep and brain website, and finally a summary or conclusion paragraph.

7. After you have written the first full draft, review it to be sure that the paragraph subjects are included in the first paragraph main theme and that there is a smooth and logical transition.

8. End with an appropriate summary or conclusion.

9. Answer the calibration questions posted for you on eCompanion to assess you essay before submitting it.

10. Remember "SAVING" just saves the material for further writing and editing. You must format it in HTML and "SUBMIT" it for final credit. Remember to HIT "PREVIEW TEXT" to see that it looks right! To format it (see SMC CPR Student Handout section on "Formatting Essays").

Calibrations and Answer Keys

n.b The Calibration Questions are the same for  the calibration essays and the review essays. They follow below. The instructor answers have been removed for the calibration essays.

 
Average Calibration Word Count = 634

High Quality Calibration
The connection between how the brain works and how we learn is amazing, but should not be surprising. The article on the biology of learning describes education as "brain training" and gives a lot of scientific information about how the brain works when challenged with learning exercises. The DVC Learning Styles site gives more specific personal information about how best each of us studies. The resources on the brain and on sleep add additional interesting information about both these subjects and how scientists work. Knowing more about all of these will help students do well in college.

The article on the biology of learning starts out with the observation that definitions are important and that learning is the process of turning information into knowledge. I never thought about the difference between information and knowledge before. That process of learning has two steps "understanding" and "remembering." It is certainly clear that biology has a lot of new vocabulary and that it is most important that we understand the definitions in order to understand the underlying biology. The basics of learning, "repetition" and "elaboration" seem to come directly from how the brain nerves or neurons interact and I now have a better understanding of short-term, working, and long-term memory. I have a lot of experience in learning something in a lecture or reading the book and then not remembering an hour later. Considering education as "brain training" helps me understand the value of learning information and ideas that may never be of practical value to me but helps in developing my abilities.

The learning article continues with how to convert information in short-term memory into long term memory by repetition and elaboration, "use it or lose it." I usually read the text first after the lecture, and then once again a couple of days before the exam. On the second reading I take some notes and compare them with the lecture notes. But I am definitely a "crammer" and study up to the last minute. I have noticed that I quickly forget a lot of what I learn for a test and that especially hurts when I have to re-study a lot for a final exam. I will try to read my text and take notes before the lectures and use time between classes instead of just in big chunks at night. This may save me time, be more efficient and help with understanding lectures. I have also noticed that it is easier to learn subjects I am interested in and unfortunately science is not on the list, at least not yet.

The DVC Learning Styles site was very interesting and helpful. There are four learning styles: Visual/Verbal, Visual/Nonverbal, Tactile/Kinesthetic, and Auditory/Verbal. I tested out as a Visual/Verbal style learner so they say I should write out the information I want to learn, use flash cards for memorization and explain diagrams and concepts in writing. I do some of this now but I plan to do this in a more organized and deliberate way and start with my first reading of the text. The article on learning also suggests that we verbilize and work with other students. I have not done this much before but I will try it this semester. I could be more efficient with my time and be more dedicated to education. I seem to be very busy, so I will have to re-think my approach to some things.

The web site on sleep is very interesting and I was surprised that rote memory is not affected by the lack of sleep. Maybe this is why my strategy of cramming sometimes works for me. The brain web site is also interesting but you have to know a lot before you actually can use the information there.

If a student knows their learning style, studies appropriately, and takes advantage of the available resources, then they can go into an exam and say "I've done my part; it's out of my hands now." Learning about the biology of learning has helped me to understand what I need to do to improve my study habits and succeed in college. It also makes me less resistant to learning material that seems not useful to me. There is no such thing as wasted learning as it all "trains my brain." I also believe that these skills will translate to success in the "real world" once I graduate. So, I'll use the techniques that worked well for me in the past and I'll try some other learning style methods to maybe improve my efficiency and accuracy so that I can adjust to a new climate of learning. My life's never been busier, but I can adjust my priorities and try to uncomplicate my life to ensure my success in school.

 

 

 

Mid Quality Calibration
Everyone knows that learning is "biological" since people do it. But learning is quite different between the K through 12 public education system and a tuition-based forum like college, it's important to make the most of your time and money. You can do this by studying extra-hard and being sure you stay on top of tasks. The resources for this assignment delve into the biological and common sense methods to learn.

The "Biology of Learning" article was long and preachy and really didn't give any new information that a person wouldn't already know from common sense. It is basically a long, detailed list of "Do's and Don'ts" for college success. In its 8 pages of its length, the article shows basically what we already know; that studying is something you have to do to pass. Elaboration and repetition is really what everyone does to study so there is nothing new there and that is what the rest of it is about The more you study, the better you are. College students just have to make studying a part of their daily routine.

There was new information in terms of brain cells and the actual biology of learning, which helped when trying to use the brain website. It seems a lot of time and money are spent on trying to explain the details of a concept that everyone already understands. Perhaps it is motivational to some students to understand how learning a new idea requires building neural networks. It could help some students to understand that analogies are helpful because they relate the new information to neural networks that are already established.

The learning skills inventory provided some new techniques that could be useful for me. The ways people learn are varied, and there were some new techniques that might make studying more efficient. By answering questions about personal preferences, the survey makes specific suggestions about ways of studying that are individualized. For my part, the text provides the tool for me to use as a learning aid. I learn best in a Visual/Verbal format. Since I am not an Auditory/Verbal learner, I sometimes lose my concentration during lectures, and I don't always get all the information. I will try reading the text in advance so I have some neurons ready to focus on the information. With a text, I can re-read the information if it doesn't make sense. I usually underline the text and take notes. My notes are organized for self-testing for definitions and factual things like that. The learning survey suggests post-it notes and flash cards that I may try. All these techniques seem to fit the repetition and elaboration process. The terminology section of the text in the back has always been helpful to me. There are too many words in biology and medicine, and so different ways to study these and practice them will be important.

It is one thing to tell a student to get a good night's sleep and quite another when the student has a huge test to study for. The sleep web site just reinforced my method of cramming because it says that lack of sleep doesn't affect rote memory. I can't help it; I study late before a test. The brain website seemed like a waste of time for this assignment and here again time was a factor.

In summary, there are some strategies a person can use to maximize their score in this course. Common sense will probably be enough, but that will serve better if you're well aware of other resources that you can use to practice the material. If you do everything right and cram a few last minute details, you will do well. Not everything in this assignment applies to me, but at least there were some things that I can use to succeed. I've got lots of work to do, and I've got a busy job. I'll try to read the text before class, come to class, and try to do all the assignments.

Low Quality Calibration
The assigned readings show that learning is a biologic process that involves changes in the brain. The article on the biology of learning describes some study methods that bring about this process. The DVC Learning Styles Survey tells you what kind of learner you are and follows with some study methods too.

Dr. Londe's article made me think about learning in a new way as well. It makes sense that understanding and remembering are organic, biological processes. It hadn't occurred to me that the structure of our brains changes as we think and learn but it's hard now to imagine that the brain would behave like a brick or a box, with information simply contained within it. The "use it or lose it" idea also makes sense because that's been true in my past experience as well.

The suggestions in this article all seem like extra work how I'll deal with the information out of class.

Because I find using a textbook rather difficult and boring when I'm trying to study, I found the information at the DVC Learning Styles Survey to be enlitening. I'm a Visual/Nonverbal learner, and so though I'll read the text, I'll use the figures more to clarify the main points. Since I've purchased my book, I can use the margins to make notes to myself with key words and create diagrams that help me with the more difficult passages. These diagrams I will try and copy onto flash cards of different colors (with the colors keyed to major topics) and use them for both organizing the information to learn it, and then later for reveiw.

The other "strategies" don't seem easy to find time for, and I'm certain I won't do them all. However, I can make a priority of my study and find the time to use those techniques that actually do work. It is also clear that as one thinks and learns "biologically," it will require work to establish the brain connections that I will use to succeed in Bio 3. I find that I learn best by writing a summary of important topics and then repeating them aloud. Sometimes I, use flash cards especially for new words. This will be especially helpful in Bio 3. Also, I sometimes write questions on flash cards with the answers on the back. Diagrams help me understand the ideas and flashcards help. That way I can see if I know the answers. - To "Know what I know and what I don't know" (what I need to learn).

 

 

CPR 1 Calibration Questions

These are the questions you will be required to answer when you “calibrate” the test essays and “review” your peer's essays, and your essay. They also provide a guide to writing this particular essay so you can refer to them as you write and used them as a check before you submit your final essay.

 

1. Does the first sentence introduce the main subject?

Yes

No

Feedback:

 

2. Does the first paragraph provide a theme that embraces the content in subsequent paragraphs?

Yes

No

Feedback:

 

3. Does the author effectively summarize the main points of "Biology of Learning" and make it clear that he/she read the Biology of Learning article and understood it?

Yes

No

Feedback:

4. Does the author relate the main points of "Biology of Learning" to their learning methods and relate any changes they might make coming from the article?

Yes

No

Feedback:

5. Did the author take the Learning Styles Survey?

Yes

No

Feedback :

 

6. Does the author give an example of a Learning Styles strategy they will employ and a description of the study methods he or she already uses? Rate the quality of the paragraph for this purpose.

A

B

C

Feedback:

 

7. Did the author tie in the sleep website and include any information as it applies to the main theme?

Yes

No

Feedback :

 

8. Did the author tie in the brain website and include any information as it applies to the main theme?

Yes

No

Feedback :.

 

9. Overall, does each paragraph serve as a separate "chunk" of information, and yet fall under the umbrella of the introductory paragraph? Are the paragraphs constructed using a theme sentence followed by supporting material? Rate the quality of this essay for this purpose.

A

B

C

Feedback :

 

10. Is the final paragraph written as a summary or conclusion?

Yes Y

No

Feedback :.

 

11. Does the final paragraph fairly reflect the major points put forward in the body of the work as it impacts on the author?

Yes

No

Feedback :

 

12. Use the following scale to rate grammar and the spelling of words in the essay. If the same word is consistently misspelled, only record that as a single error. We interested in the effectiveness of communication not so much on grammar and spelling unless errors interfere with comprehension. So, unless the errors interfere with comprehension no points should be deducted from the overall score of the essay.

None

Some (1 or 2)

Many (more than 2)

Feedback:

 

13. Did the author use any whole sentences or phrases copied from another source? Did the author plagiarize?

Yes

No

Feedback:

 

14. How would you rate this text overall? Consider the content, writing effectiveness, and fulfillment of the assigned writing prompts. 1-10?

Your Rating_____

Feedback :