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Chapter 2

The Central Role of Working Memory: How We Handle Information

This chapter outlines the wider research that has led to the development of an information processing model: showing the flow of information in the human brain. The working memory is central to the entire process. This is the one place in the brain where we think, understand and solve problems: the working part of the brain. Working memory has a fixed capacity and the capacity is quite small. Chemistry involves many concepts, which by their nature are abstract. Understanding a concept often requires the learner to hold many ideas at the same time, to gain any kind of understanding. If the number of ideas to be held at the same time is too large, working memories cannot cope and understanding is simply impossible. Johnstone asked two questions. First, is there something about the nature of chemistry itself that makes it difficult? Second, is there something about how humans gain understanding that makes understanding chemistry difficult? Limited working memory capacity answers the second question and this answer led him to explore the first question, leading to the development of his very simple but powerful triangle model.

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29 Jan 2021
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