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Valdosta State University
Department of Psychology
PSY310  Edcational Psychology
Instructor: John H. Hummel, Ph.D.

Study Questions/Review
Information Processing & Memory

Chapter 6: Information Processing and Memory

1. Define the following: information processing theory; memory; schema; automatization; forgetting; primacy and recency effects; verbal learning; Gestalt principles of figure-ground and closure;

2. List and describe the three types of memory. (Include the 2 characteristics of each type.) Describe the types of LTM.

3. Describe how the five information processing theories discussed in the text are similar and different.

A. The Atkinson-Shiffrin model of levels of processing is "different" from the Craik-Lockhart and models. (a) Describe how each model describes the flow of information through the types of memory; & (b) evaluate which model was supported (explaining your reasoning) in the classroom demonstration using a telephone number.

4. Information stored in sensory registered is transferred to STM mainly as a result of "attention." What one attends to is dramatically influenced by the Gestalt principles of perceptual organization. Four Gestalt principles (closure, figure-ground, proximity, and similarity) were discussed in class. Be able to define/illustrate each.

5. List three ways a teacher can get students' attention.

6. How does rehearsal affect information in STM? Why is Paivio's dual code theory of practical import for teachers with respect to students rehearsing information to be learned?

7. How does learned information become "automatized?" Compare automatization with the way psychologists use the term Habit and the way biologists use the term Reflexive.

8. Describe Bransford's transfer-appropriate processing theory and use it to describe why a student who studies in her living room might not do as well on a test as one who studies in her classroom (all other variables being equivalent).

9. Describe the interference theory of forgetting. Interference (negative transfer) can work proactively or retroactively. Explain each of these types of inhibition.

10. Describe the primacy and recency effects, and explain what causes them.

11. Recognizing that learning new material can interfere with older material and vice versa, it is also important to know that learning new material can also facilitate one's ability to remember older material (and vice versa). This is known as positive transfer. List and define the two types of positive transfer.

12. Describe how teachers can reduce retroactive inhibition.

13. List and describe the three types of verbal learning.

14. List and describe (text and lecture) the ways to improve memory (note: these are instructional & study strategies that make learning easier/faster, and allow users to remember more).

A. Analyze why each method improves memory by explaining how it relates to the types of memory, levels of processing, Carroll's theory of learning, etc.

B. Interpret, from a memory perspective (relate it to methods for improving memory, schema theory, etc.), the following quote from syndicated columnist L. M. Boyd.

In that field of study called logic: Induction goes methodically from the specific to the general. Deduction goes methodically from the general to the specific. Abduction bounces around at random in the hope of inspiration. It is the method most commonly used by people called upon to explain why they're late.

PSY 310 Review of Chap. 6: Information Processing & Memory

1. Memory is the retention of learned material

2. Humans have three types of memory:

a. Whenever one's senses are activated (physical energy) the information immediately is placed in sensory store/register. Information that one "attends to" is transferred to STM. Information in STM that is rehearsed is transferred to LTM. Each type of memory has two characteristics:

sensory register STM/WM LTM

a. large capacity small capacity unlimited(?) capacity b. brief duration short duration unlimited(?) duration

2. Information in sensory register and STM decays if it is not, respectively, attended to or rehearsed. Information stored in LTM, it is believed, is permanently stored. But, most people do not have "eidetic" (photographic) memories. There are three registers associated with LTM: Procedural, semantic, and episodic. Procedural is where routines or habits are stored. This includes skills such as the ability to operate equipment (cars, computers, etc.), cook, etc. Semantic memory is associated with language skills and analytical abilities; while episodic is where one's unique personal experiences are stored. Of the three, episodic contains the most detailed information, but all three rely heavily on active reconstruction of details, which is one reason why memory is so prone to error, even when one is POSITIVE about the details.

a. Transfer: Transfer can be positive or negative Transfer occurs when information studied at two times interact to influence learning and remembering. Negative transfer can affect one's ability to learn new information (e.g., older material prevents the learning of new), or it can adversely affect one's ability to remember information that HAS been learned. This is referred to as INTERFERENCE. Retroactive interference can ONLY affect information that has already been LEARNED! It is where new information inhibits the remembering of older material. Proactive interference occurs when older material inhibits one's ability to remember newer content. (Additionally, the new/old information may transform the information it interacts with!). Even if stored information is not affected by interference, it is not always retrievable. This may be due to how it is organized or that it is stored in one's unconscious. Another theory of forgetting is decay. Decay theory says that information in STM that is NOT rehearsed or transferred to LTM is physically lost after about 30 seconds. Information that is stored in LTM is never "lost," so "forgetting of information in LTM really means "unable to retrieve." Interference theory applies to information stored in LTM (but not decay!), and there is another theory of forgetting, the cue-dependent theory, that also applies to information stored in LTM. When we are learning verbal material, the setting where it is learned becomes associated with how the information is learned and stored in LTM. When we try to remember the information, our ability to accurately recall the information is dependent on the similarity between the testing condition and the original learning conditions. The more similar the two settings, the more we remember; the less similar, the less we remember.

Positive transfer also can affect either how (whether) new information is learned, or remembered. Proactive facilitation is when old content makes it either easier to learn newer material, or remember the newer material. Retroactive facilitation (which can only affect previously learned content), occurs when new material makes it easier to remember older content.

3. There are two competing models (levels of processing) that describe how information moves from sensory register to LTM. Both models specify that each memory NORMALLY filters the information that passes through it before it continues to the next memory type. a. Atkinson-Shiffren says that nothing can go into LTM unless it has gone through both sensory store and STM. b. Craik-Lockhart says that most information goes through sensory and STM before entering LTM, but that meaningful/important information can bypass STM. Paivio's dual code theory is presented as a third level-of-processing model but it really does not contradict either of the other two. Instead, it complements them. It says that information rehearsed bimodally (e.g., visually and auditorily for most human learning) is learned faster/easier and is easier to remember (and more resistant to interference) than if the information were learned unimodally. This has very practical educational implications for instruction at all levels of education. Read stuff to be learned out loud. There are two other information processing models in addition to the three above. These are Bransford's transfer-appropriate theory (which is also known as the cue-dependent theory of forgetting), and parallel distributed processing theory which posits that information is processed in all three memories and in different ways simultaneously).

4. When a human first begins learning new material, the primacy and recency effects occur, especially with respect to information organized/presented serially. It is easier to learn/remember the first and last few pieces of information. Behaviorists (such as you know who) explain this phenomenon as follows: New material is novel and so it possesses characteristics that distinguish it from old information and the material that follows it (the "middle" stuff that is most easily forgotten), and is typically rehearsed more than the stuff in the middle or at the end (a practice effect). The last bits of information in a series are also more likely to be recalled because they are the ones closest (temporally-the concept of immediacy) to positive reinforcers for successfully completing the task (or escape re: negative reinforcement if the learning situation is aversive).

a. Still, teachers and learners should realize that the middle stuff takes longer to learn and is more susceptible to interference so they should have students rehearse it frequently, use variety in presentation for it, make it as novel as possible, and reinforce its acquisition.

5. In classrooms, teachers usually assess what students have learned indirectly by assessing what they are able to remember on a test where recall and recognition items are used (Teachers should remember two points about this strategy: (a) cannot directly measure what has been learned because learning is a construct, and (b) good test items are based on the objectives the teacher actually taught, and what we teach may not reflect exactly what the students learn). Researchers usually assess memory via recall, recognition, or relearning. Recall is where one must reproduce what has been learned exactly the way it was presented (e.g., if you learn a phone number you can only use it if you remember it perfectly). There are two types of recall: verbatim (no cues) and reconstruction (cues are given; very similar to paired-associate). Recognition requires the learner to identify (or match) previously learned material from among distracters that were not previously learned (similar to matching and multiple choice items). Recognition, of course, is easier than recall but is not always as beneficial to the learner. (Hummel's law 686: Not very much of life is A, B, C, or D; or true/false). Relearning is where we measure how long it takes to originally learn information to a set criterion, and how long it takes, in the future, to relearn the same information. The difference between the two learning times is the savings, and indicates how much of the information was stored in LTM.

A. Almost all memory research uses Ebbinghaus' NONSENSE SYLLABLE. Nonsense syllables are 3 letter non-words reflecting a consonant-vowel-consonant arrangement (e.g., ZEQ). These are free of meaning so they are less likely to possess association value for subjects in a study (which means that nonsense syllables will be as easy or hard to learn/remember for all the subjects in the study since they don't have any particular meaning for any of the subjects). Thus, nonsense syllables are pure primary dependent variables for memory research.

6. Ways to improve memory. Learners (and instructors) should do all of the following whenever possible. Distributed vs. massed: distributing one's studying is more effective than cramming; use part learning (learn stuff in pieces rather than wholes); keep the learning situation as similar as possible to the testing situation; overlearn; use active recitation; use mnemonics when possible; employ spaced review; make sure info-to-be-learned is meaningful (paraphrase it) and is organized hierarchically before it is learned; & point out differences between similar-but-different material.


Last Updated: May 20, 1997