MEANINGFUL LEARNING AND TWO LEVELS OF FOCUSED AND DIFFUSE THINKING MODES: A PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE IN THE PHYSICS LECTURE
Meaningful learning theory is a very important goal in teaching-learning activities as it underlies any constructivist theory. In this theory new information acquires meaning through interaction with specifically relevant knowledge from the learner's cognitive structure. In addition, nowadays, Neuroscience recognizes two thinking modes, the so-called diffuse and focused thinking modes. This offers opportunities for designing new learning-teaching strategies. This paper takes into account both modes of thinking in the design of a procedure to achieve the significant acquisition of an organized knowledge structure in a teaching-learning situation. Under a constructivist focus, both thinking modes are useful to achieve integration between specific ideas, individual attitudes, and other topics related to meaningful learning. Unlike our previous work, we highlight two levels of action in which learning-teaching educational activities can be performed. In each of them, the alternation of diffuse and focused thinking modes takes place. In the first level, the lecturer shows students basic concepts about a subject while the learners’ previous knowledge is stimulated. If there are lacks, the lecturer should observe how long it takes students to build cognitive bridges and carry out the transition from mechanical to significant learning. The second level aims at more advanced objectives and tasks to be learnt. However, it is necessary to verify that meaningful learning has occurred in the first level. Thus, the procedure depends on the previous level and different tasks must be taken into consideration in order to proceed. This strategy considers the complexity and progressivity of meaningful learning at both levels. This technique has been used in an undergraduate Applied Physics course and has proven to be very useful for the comprehension of a variety of concepts in physics and its applications. Results illustrate a theoretical method and its application to nerve conduction where concepts such as potential, electrical capacity, electrical resistance and so on are considered in the first level of the procedure. More advanced concepts such as rest potential, action potential and RC circuit are used in the second level to understand nerve conduction from the perspective of physics. Outcomes reveal meaningful learning indicators in which the learning process is complex, progressive and critical.