ed535 problem solving and perceptional discrimination

Problem Solving and Perceptual Discrimination and Learning

Choose a prompt from one of the following options:

Option 1

Chapters 6-8 of the text (Carey, 2014) show how people tackle complex problems as learners. Stepping back to see the different aspects of the issue, learning to find time and space to let ideas simmer and flourish, and moving between ideas are all components of problem solving. Likely, your reading has raised as many questions for you as it has answers.

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Using ideas that came to you as you read the required readings, do the following:

  • Present two key questions you believe are “thorny problems” worthy of discussion and consideration by your peers.
    • Post genuine, complex questions you believe cannot be answered by simply reviewing the text.
    • Provide context for your questions. Why do you wonder about these topics?
Option 2

Chapter 9 in the text (Carey, 2014) presents the idea that researchers are still learning about how perceptual discrimination works in the brain and what it might mean for learning in the classroom setting. Many of the examples shared in the text focus on what researchers have learned from studying experts in different fields such as chess and flying.

Consider how the findings (about perceptual discrimination works in the brain) presented in chapter 9 can inform your understanding of your teaching by answering the following:

  • How do the findings presented in chapter 9 impact what you are doing with your students as learners?
    • Apply your critical thinking skills and imagine how this might come into play for your students.
  • What potential do you see to use what you have learned from this material in your classroom? If you are not a classroom teacher, consider application to your professional roles or experiences.

Support your statements with evidence from the required studies and your research. Cite and reference your sources in APA style.

Effective Translation of Ideas in the Classroom

“Problem solving” and “critical thinking”, these buzz words, regularly used in educational circles, refer to particular learning skills and outcomes educators would like to see in their students. A Google search of the phrase “critical thinking” draws 28 million results in less than one second. In the same amount of time, “problem solving” generates nearly 72 million results. While neither of these would be considered effective web searches for research purposes, the number of mentions of these terms helps to see the prevalence of these ideas in society.

In the course text, Carey (2014) looks closely at these two phrases to help determine how they influence learning experiences. The challenge for you this week is to begin to consider how the two concepts “problem solving” and “critical thinking” are or are not effectively translated to the current context of education and the work going on in schools daily.

Carey (2014) also discusses the important—and often unnoticed—work done through perceptual discrimination. One’s senses are alive with information and are constantly processing the world around him or her to help make conscious (and subconscious) decisions about one’s next move or action. Research shows that one’s skills at perceptual discrimination are refined from an early age, and individuals are constantly becoming more skilled at effectively identifying and responding to the most relevant environmental inputs (Scott, Pascalis, & Nelson, 2007). How this work affects learning is one of the areas you will consider this week.

However, one of the realities of the research being done in the areas of cognitive and neuroscience is that ideas are often taken out of context or purpose. Great ideas are generated from research, but understanding why these ideas work in these ways is not always clear or accurate. One challenge as a teacher is to be continually aware of the impact of current research on the brain and its effect on classroom practice.

This week, you will have the opportunity to explore some of these challenges and consider what is known about classroom practices. Are they research based?


Carey, B. (2014). How we learn: The surprising truth about when, where, and why it happens. New York: Random House.

Scott, L. S., Pascalis, O., & Nelson, C. A. (2007). A domain-general theory of the development of perceptual discrimination. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16(4), 197-201. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8721.2007.00503.x

Weekly Objectives

Through participation in the following activities, the candidate will:

  • Apply the concepts of cognitive processes (e.g. memorization, problem solving) to teaching and learning. (8j)
    • Problem Solving and Perceptual Discrimination and Learning
    • Debunking Myths
  • Identify and explain the significance of cognitive science research in teaching and learning. (1d, 1e, 2j, 8j)
    • Debunking Myths

Required Studies

The following materials are required studies for this week. Complete these studies at the beginning of the week, and save these materials for future use. Full references for these materials are listed in the Required Course Materials section of the syllabus.

How We Learn (Carey, 2014)
  • Chapter 6: The Upside of Distraction
  • Chapter 7: Quitting Before You’re Ahead
  • Chapter 8: Being Mixed Up
  • Chapter 9: Learning Without Thinking
  • Chapter 10: You Snooze, You Win
  • Conclusion: The Foraging Brain