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Learning Theories: Three Representational Modes Cheat Sheet by

learning     theories     linguistic     nonlinguistic     affective


All inform­ation that is perceived via the senses passes through three processors that encode it as lingui­stic, nonlin­gui­stic, or affective repres­ent­ati­ons (Marzano, 1998). Here for exapmple, is how we learn:

If you go to a football game for the first time you encode inform­ation:
Linguistically, such as rules and customs;
Retain mental images nonl­ing­uis­tic­ally, such as mental images of the players positi­oning themselves and then getting in the proper stance;
Have various sensations that are encoded affe­cti­vely, such as the excitement during a touchdown or turnover.

The Linguistic Mode

In the educat­ional and training world, knowledge is most commonly presented lingui­sti­cally (the study of language), so perhaps this mode receives the most attention from a learning standpoint (Chomsky, 1988). The linguistic mode includes verbal commun­ica­tion, reading, watching (e.g. learn the rule of chess through observ­ation), etc.

Discus­sions and theories around the linguistic mode can get quite complex so I am keeping this fairly simple. Basically, the linguistic processor encodes our experi­ences as abstract propos­itions.

Prop­osi­tions are thought to perform a number of other functions in addition to being the primary bearers of truth and falsity and the things expressed by collec­tions of declar­ative sentences in virtue of which all members of the collection "say the same thing". Propos­itions represent the things we doubt and know. They are the bearers of modal proper­ties, such as being necessary and possible. Some of them are the things that ought to be true.

These propos­itions are organized into two networks:
1. The declar­ative network contains inform­ation about specific events and the inform­ation genera­lized from them. These are the “What” of human knowledge.
2, The procedural network contains inform­ation about how to perform specific mental or physical processes, such as “IF and THEN” statem­ents.

These two networks are the main channels for intera­cting with each other (commu­nic­ation). Commun­ication is the main functions of language. Language symbols are used to represent things in the world. Indeed, we can even represent things that do not even exist. Commun­ication does not imply a language, for example using hand signals. But a language does imply commun­ica­tion, that is, when we use language, we normally use it to commun­icate.

Learning Theory

Each repres­ent­ation may be thought of as a record that is encoded and then filed away.

The Nonlin­guistic Mode

This includes mental pictures, smell, kinest­hetic, tactile, auditory, and taste. At first, we might believe that they are entirely different struct­ures, however these repres­ent­ations are quite similar to each other in that these nonlin­guistic sensations function in a similar fashion in permanent memory (Richa­rdson, 1983). That is, although we sense things differ­ently, such as smell and touch, they are stored in mental repres­ent­ations that are quite similar. They also lose a lot of their robustness once the experience is over and transf­erred to memory. For example, picturing the smell of a rose from memory is not as vivid as actually smelling a real rose.

Although we can realis­tically study lingui­stics, taste, hearing, etc.; mental images are another matter. . . how do you study a picture in someone's mind? Hence, there are several models for the nonlin­guistic mode in the psychology world. However, there are a few things we know for certain:
Mental images can be generated from two sources - the eyes (e.g., the after image of a light bulb) and from permanent memory (using your mind to picture a tiger that has squares instead of dots).
Mental images are an essential aspect of nonlin­guistic thought and play an important part in creati­vity.
Due to the fragmented and constr­ucted nature of mental images, they are not always accurate pictures of whole thought as compared to prepos­iti­ona­lly­-based linguistic inform­ation. However, they can have a powerful effect on our thoughts due to their intensive and vivid nature, e.g. the power of storyt­elling, the images we create in our mind when reading a powerful novel, metaphors, imagin­ation, creati­vity, etc.

The Affective Mode

This is our feeling, emotions, and mood (Stuss & Benson, 1983):
Feeling is one's internal physio­logical state at any given point in time.
Emotion is the coming together of feelings and though­ts. (prepo­sit­ion­all­y-based linguistic data) that are associated with the feeling.
Mood is the long-term emotion or the most repres­ent­ative emotion over a period of time.

The affective mode can be thought of as a continuum of feelings, emotions, and ultimately moods. The end points of the continuum are pleasure and pain and we normally strive to stay on the pleasure end of it.

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