Memory & Strategic Use of the System

Memory & Strategic Use of the System Neil H. Schwartz, Ph.D. Department of Psychology Elaboration Elaboration is the generation of representations that add on to, or associate several related

things with what needs to be remembered. Elaboration can be done semantically, or it can be done with imagery. Either way, it is a very effective encoding strategy. strategy Children do not tend to spontaneously use elaboration until adolescence. Method of Loci (or locational memory)

People remember things better when they can associate it with a location. location Research investigations have looked at children as young as age 3, and found them to be just as good at remembering locations of things as adults-- sometimes slightly better. Children do just as well as adults when encoding information by location. What we know about

children's memory encoding Gender Differences in strategy use There are reliable gender effects on the performance outcomes of encoding strategies.

strategies Most encoding strategies are verbal in nature, with the exception of imagery. Females generally excel on verbal tasks relative to males. Females generally show performance advantages over males using organization and elaboration. Generalizations from the Developmental Encoding Literature

When children are very knowledgeable about a particular domain, they encode information from that domain very rapidly. When children have an elaborated knowledge base, the knowledge allows them to use their memory strategies much more efficiently. Having a knowledge base makes the use of some parts of strategies automatic even in young children.

When children get older a more sophisticated knowledge base, plus experience, can make the use of one or more encoding strategies automatic for entire problem-solving routines. Knowledge base is the best single predictor of memory performance than any other factor-even more than age. For example, consider the following knowledge areas: dinosaurs, horses, Barbie's, fighter planes, boys, etc. The role of metamemory

Metamemory is knowing about your memory-knowing what strategies to execute, and monitoring the success of strategy use. (Thinking about how well you are comprehending while you are reading, and the things you could do to comprehend more are examples of your metamemory.) Metamemory skills increase with age.

Metamemory continued Metamemory knowledge is apparent in very young children-- as young as 4 years old, but the extent of that knowledge is very limited-perhaps obvious, like: more items are more difficult to remember than less; relearning some things is faster than learning something for the 1st time. time

Metamemory continued By 3rd grade, children will generalize the use of encoding strategies if they get feedback that a strategy is effective in remembering something. Metamemory knowledge ---> memory behavior; and, memory behavior ---> metamemory knowledge.

Getting Things Out of Memory: Retrieval There are two different ways to retrieve information from memory: recognition and recall. What we know about Recognition

Recognition is determining if we have something in memory by deciding whether some item or cue matches something we have already seen, heard, or done. Adult recognition memory is excellent, with as much as 90% accuracy for a large number of things seen for as long as a week. For progressively smaller sets of stimuli (e.g. fewer numbers of pictures), younger children as young as 1 1/2 years to 3 years old recognize as well as adults.

Recognition continued What differentiates children's recognition ability by age is: 1. the complexity of the material 2. prior knowledge with the material 3. ability to apply strategies during encoding What we know about Recall

Recall is the retrieval of a representation without the benefit of an external stimulus. Recall is much harder as a retrieval method than recognition. recognition Cued recall is easier than free recall. Recall ability increases developmentally, with children requiring fewer prompts to mediate successful memory performance as they get older.

The Role of Motivation in Memory Motivation does have a role in children's memory, and seems to be involved by way of beliefs. That is, A child will actively engage operations to remember if s/he expects there is utility in doing so. This notion is referred to as: subjective expected utility. Even children as young as 4 years old can be

motivated to use their memory to encode information, but. while incentives will cause them to try to use: (a) more sophisticated strategies, and (b) allocate more attention it does not yield better memory performance! Motivation continued If children have higher levels of mastery

motivation, they show higher levels of memory as measured by recall. Mastery motivation is a child's tendency to be independent, self-directed, spontaneously active, and interested in success.

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