Contextual Cues Influence Learning

Did you know . . .

The fusiform facial area is a special area within the brain that processes facial images. This is apart from the Clutter (1)processing of other spatial objects. The neurons literally light up in a different pattern depending on whether we are looking at a human face or a non-human object. It is even indicated that the brain can distinguish from a face that is actually in your presence and a face that is presented graphically (as in a picture or on a computer screen).

Pop, pop, pop!

This leads to different rates of cognition in general and contextual processing specifically.

Boldly taking the initiative with this recent research, Australia is conducting a national experiment by redesigning their classrooms. Reading some of the tactics they are employing in the redesigned classrooms, it is interesting to note that nonverbal influence in the classroom is first addressed through clutter reduction. Turns out we really do have trouble with understanding others if our environment is cluttered.

Which leads me to wonder about workplace productivity.

Studies bat back and forth concerning cluttered versus non-cluttered workspaces. Too clean versus too cluttered, and just what constitutes cluttered (your sandwich from yesterday = definitely too cluttered). I prefer a clean work space, but several colleagues seem to prefer and even claim better performance by having clutter around them. The “I know where everything is” syndrome. I even have students who bring seemingly every worldly possession they own to class so they can clutter the limited desk space. Do you really need to charge your phone, iPod and laptop while you are in class? At 9p on a Tuesday night?

Does it matter? What do you think?

Image courtesy of Richard Stebbing

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