- The research literature from cognitive science shows that knowledge does much more than just help students hone their thinking skills.
- The benefits of knowledge are exceptional:
- makes learning easier.
- brings more knowledge and improves the quality and speed of thinking.
- helps individuals hone thinking skills.
- makes the knowledge-rich richer and smarter; and
- is cumulative and grows exponentially.
- How knowledge brings more knowledge. The more you know, the easier it will be for you to learn new things. Learning new things is actually a seamless process, but in order to study it and understand it better, cognitive scientists have approached it as a three-stage process. And they've found that knowledge helps at every stage: as you first take in new information (either via listening or reading), as you think about this information, and as the material is stored in memory.
- How knowledge helps you take in new information. An obvious way in which knowledge aids the acquisition of more knowledge lies in the greater power it affords in making correct inferences.
- How knowledge helps you think about new information. Comprehending a text so as to take in new information is just the first stage of learning that new information; the second is to think about it. This happens in what cognitive scientists call working memory, the staging ground for thought. Working memory is often referred to metaphorically as a space to emphasize its limited nature; one can maintain only a limited amount of information in working memory.
- How knowledge improves thinking. Knowledge enhances thinking in two ways. First, it helps you solve problems by freeing up space in your working memory. Second, it helps you circumvent thinking by acting as a ready supply of things you've already thought about.
- How knowledge helps you solve problems. If you don't have sufficient background knowledge, simply understanding the problem can consume most of your working memory, leaving no space for you to consider solutions.
- How knowledge helps you circumvent thinking. It's not just facts that reside in memory; solutions to problems, complex ideas you've teased apart, and conclusions you've drawn are also part of your store of knowledge. A considerable body of research shows that people get better at drawing analogies as they gain experience in a domain.
Category 1: A new, better world for everyone
[genioux fact extracted from Reading Rockets]
Authors of the genioux fact
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Daniel Willingham earned his B.A. from Duke University in 1983 and his Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Harvard University in 1990. He is currently Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, where he has taught since 1992. Until about 2000, his research focused solely on the brain basis of learning and memory. Today, all of his research concerns the application of cognitive psychology to K-16 education.
He writes the “Ask the Cognitive Scientist” column for American Educator magazine, and is the author of Why Don't Students Like School?, When Can You Trust the Experts?, Raising Kids Who Read, and The Reading Mind. His writing on education has appeared in seventeen languages.
In 2017 he was appointed by President Obama to serve as a Member of the National Board for Education Sciences.