The answer to this question is both very simple and incredibly complex. Simple because it’s very straightforward to demonstrate working memory in action; complex because to fully grasp the nature of working memory we really need to understand how it’s related to other types of memory. Let us then get the easy explanation out ofContinue reading What is Working Memory?
I’ve written elsewhere about how British psychologists at the MRC Applied Psychology Unit, now the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, worked with the British Post Office to design the most memorable system of postcodes in the world. The Unit was also involved in other projects for the Post Office, primarily concerned with changes takingContinue reading Learning: The importance of timing
In recent years, the phenomenon dubbed the forgetting curve has tweaked the interest of a growing number of teachers and other educationalists motivated by the application of cognitive psychology to learning. Put simply, the forgetting curve states that newly learned information will fade quickly unless returned to regularly. This makes intuitive sense; if I learnContinue reading The Forgetting Curve: How useful is it?
What is it to pay attention? Why is it that sometimes I can be engaged in a conversation when suddenly my focus of attention is drawn away from it, only to return when I realise I’m expected to offer a response to a comment I didn’t catch? And what was it that disrupted by attentionContinue reading Attention in the classroom
Working memory limitations indicate that we should design learning in such a way as to reduce cognitive load. Working memory is a resource with limited capacity and duration – there is only so much we can attend to at any one time. This is not just a proposal of working memory theory – it’s alsoContinue reading instructional design: Working memory & expertise reversal
When we discuss memory, particularly in the context of learning, we usually refer to psychological models, such as the Working Memory Model of Baddeley and Hitch or the earlier Multi-store Model of Atkinson and Shiffrin. At a push we may refer to Cowan’s Embedded Process Theory or discuss working memory from within models of instructionalContinue reading Memory: A Curious Journey
The production effect states that when we read aloud, our memory of the information is stronger than if we read silently to ourselves. Yet this behaviour is often viewed with disdain, especially in older students. When we first learn to read we read out loud, perhaps to a teacher or a parent. Once we becomeContinue reading Why reading aloud leads to better recall
Chunking describes the process by which individual pieces of information are broken down and grouped together. The process is said to make the recall of information easier because it helps to bypass the inherent limitations of working memory. However, chunking also relies heavily upon long-term memory. Chunking is, therefore, related to another aspect of memoryContinue reading When is a chunk not a chunk?
What does binge-watching the latest Netflix addition have to do with teaching and learning? Over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed a curious phenomenon. Initially, I put it down to the inevitable slow decline of my cognitive functions as I age, but being the curious kind of person I am (and not being entirelyContinue reading Netflix, binge-watching & the spacing effect
During the 1960s, Canadian psychologist Allan Paivio made an interesting yet seemingly simple observation; he discovered that people found it easier to remember concrete nouns that can be imagined compared to abstract nouns where images were harder to come by. For example, if I were to present to you a list containing only words likeContinue reading What is Dual-Coding?