Information Processing Theory: Overview & Practical Teaching Examples Video

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Jeffersonianism: Overview & Practical Teaching Examples

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 Information Processing
  • 1:30 Cognitive Load
  • 3:54 Automaticity
  • 5:38 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

How does information make its way to memory? How do people learn? In this lesson, we'll examine the information processing theory of learning, including the process of memory, cognitive load, chunking, and automaticity.

Information Processing

Joanie is just learning to read, and she's struggling. She's a very slow reader, and by the time she finishes a sentence, she can't remember how it started! Reading, like other types of learning, is about storing information in a person's mind. Specifically, learning involves storing and accessing information in memory.

But how, exactly, does this happen? There are many theories. Among them, the information processing theory of learning says that information from the world around us moves from sensory storage to working memory to long-term memory.

For example, when Joanie is reading, she is receiving sensory information from the book in front of her: Her eyes are taking in the size and shape of each letter, the letters grouped together to make words, and how it all looks on the page. That's all in sensory storage.

As she moves her eye across the page, she remembers what she just read a second or two ago. That means that the information is in working memory, or storage of memories that occurred only a few seconds in the past.

If things go right, though, Joanie will remember the information in the book longer than just a few seconds. If everything works well, it will move to long-term memory, which is really just memories that are stored for a person to access later.

Let's take a closer look at the information processing theory of learning and how teachers can apply it to help students.

Cognitive Load

When Joanie is learning how to read, it's very important for information to move from sensory to working memory to long-term memory. Why? Working memory is very limited. Only a few things can be in working memory at a time, and they can only be stored there for a few seconds.

This can cause problems in learning. Take Joanie, for example: If she's reading a paragraph, she can't remember every word in that paragraph or even every sentence. She needs to move that information to long-term memory. Otherwise, when she gets to the end of a paragraph, she will have forgotten how the paragraph started!

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account