• Aniruddh

4 ways to help students handle new information

This is part 4 of a series of blogs to enumerate habits essential to building scientific temper in students. You can read our blog on making observations here, on noting observations here, on recognising patterns here, and on asking questions here.

In this blog, we focus on how to help students handle the new information that they will invariably be flooded with once they ask questions.

1. Help students make sense of the new information

We live in an age when information is not limited. There is always a surplus of information. The challenge today for young inquirers is what to trust and what not to trust. There is no one fail-safe way to get reliable information. Helping students identify reliable sources of information and what makes these sources reliable is the first step. Ask simple questions like, Does the website or book cite where it has picked up the information from? For example, Wikipedia does a great job of citing its sources, and when it does not have reliable sources, it flags the content saying, Citation needed.

Once the student receives reliable information, the next challenge is to make sense of it. Creating concept maps with the students or any other type of visual representation (e.g. flowcharts, schematic diagrams, etc.) helps in clarifying information for students.

2. Build on previous knowledge or understanding

One effective way to assimilate new information is to make connections with already existing memories. Our brains store information in the form of a complex web, with each memory connected to another due to experiences. And when our brain is introduced to new information, if we connect it to something that we already know, we build deeper connections, and this helps our new learning.

3. Encourage the multi-disciplinary approach

Building on the previous point on making connections, it helps students if we help them make connections not only between topics but also between subjects. If making connections is good for memory, then making even more connections is better for consolidating memory. For example, encourage students to make connections between history and geography by looking for the effects of geography of a region on its history.

4. Address misconceptions

When assimilating new information, students are likely to face two types of challenges. One, they may make connections that don’t really exist. This is part of the confirmation bias problem that we had mentioned in one of our earlier blogs. Secondly, a student may not be able to reconcile the new information with what they already know. In such cases, it is likely that students have stumbled upon a misconception. Either their previous understanding or the newly found information is not accurate. As an adult, we must help students find out where the misconception lies and help them navigate this.

The multi-disciplinary nature of unboxED, with each STEM box building on the knowledge introduced by the Literacy box, as well as reflection activities that follow STEM projects, enable students to make connections with previously-learnt information and reconcile new information.

unboxED offers the child and educator resources to build a growth mindset while exploring Literacy and STEM concepts through conversations and creation, and letting kids be kids. These products have been built keeping in mind the academic and cognitive skills needed at various stages of the child’s development.

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