Memory and cognitive processes when preparing for examinations

Memory and cognitive processes when preparing for examinations

Among the most valuable traits possessed by humanity is the memory. Recently, scientists have invested their resources in efforts factors that boost memory. In a classroom environment, memory plays a crucial role for both the educator and the learner. In a learning environment, most people tend to link memory with the ability to recall some past events; however, it is imperative to note that focuses on diverse issues that are not limited to learning, attending, and ability to link skills and knowledge that is learnt daily. The educators employ memory as a proof that a concept has been understood/ learned. The educators are required to make certain that students are able to connect between what was taught previously with the present, take part actively in the learning process, develop meaning to what is learnt, and be able to reveal what they have learnt through passing exams; all that employs memory.  Therefore, educators are mostly interested in enabling the student to learn rather than teach. Thus, through cognitive processes, the teaching-learning process is developed because the students are able to manage, accumulate, and remember the skills and facts acquired. This essay describes the cognitive processes required when preparing for examinations through the use of memory.

The information-processing model is among the most notable theories of memory. This model entails the ability to process, interpret information, and store it in such a way that it can be retrieved in future. In the model there exist the interpreting input that is responsible for evaluating whether information is to be stored, its connection with past information, and then storing it in a way that it can be recalled. Thus, this model associates the human memory to that of a computer (Matlin, 2009).

When the students get the first contact with information, they employ perception of the brain through the sense receptors. These sense receptors are sense organs that enable students to connect with the learning environment, among them are the hands, skin, nose, tongue, and hands (Henson and Eller, 12009, p. 249). According to Ormrod (2008), many scholars believe that there is a connection between the sensory registers and ability to pay attention in respect to the manner in which the short-term memory works. However, this is considered realistic because everything in the sensory registers that lacks the ability to catch an individual’s attention is never stored in the memory.

The human attention is limited to a capacity that one can attend to few tasks at the same time. This is because sensory register can only transmit ability of limited information to the working/ short-term memory. Therefore, it is evident that educators use the sensory register for two critical reasons; first enable students to pay attention to what they are learning and store it; second, it requires sufficient time to recall information stored in the working memory and apply it (Slavin, 2007).

According to Schacter, et al (2012), the working memory or the short-term memory is part of the human memory where newly learnt information is stored while being processed. It store information temporarily as one thinks about the action to take through processing the information. One of the major characteristics of the short-term memory is the ability to evaluate new information and for limited time and has limited capacity. It is these characteristics that make teachers to rehearse before teaching and give students time assimilate the information rather than teaching them so much information in one lesson.  To overcome the limitations of the working memory, teachers use automaticity and chunking (Miller, 2006). The short-term memory differs among students. The short term memory is improved through the background of the information. Upon a student coming into contact with stimuli, the short term memory can decide to ignore the information, keep in the short term memory through rehearsing it, or transfer it to the long term memory. The student must be able to link the past information with the newly acquired information for information to be moved from short-term memory to long-

The long-term memory has the ability to store information for a long period, has unlimited capacity, and is able to link other information. It enables one to store information for as long the individual wishes. Some scholars assume that this information stored in the long-term memory is stored in either verbal units or visual images, or mutually (Clark & Paivio, 2001). The long-term memory is classified into procedural memory, semantic memory, and episodic memory.

The semantic memory, commonly referred to as the declarative memory, stores generalized information, such as the basic concepts and laws among others. The episodic memory stores personal experiences like the 1st presidential inauguration ceremony. It may also entail the flashbulb memory. The educators use some memorable events to ensure that learners develop the episodic memory, and thus remember the concepts learned. This is an important form of effective instruction. Procedural memory entails the ability of an individual to recall how to perform a certain task; such tasks may entail cooking, or typing, among others (Albery, et al, 2008).

The ability of the long-term memory to recall depends on they type of concept. The ability to develop a long-term retention mostly depends on what they initially learnt. Other scholars assume that student’s scores are reflected by their level of participation in class. Several theories have been developed to explain the process of the long-term memory development. Among them is the dual-code theory developed by Clark and Paivio.

The dual-code theory postulates that information is stored inform of verbal form and visual form; this is in alignment with that semantic memory and episodic memory respectively. The theory argues that students can easily recall information learned through use of both verbally and visually, than what is learned using either of them (Clark, Paivio, 2001).

The transfer-appropriate-processing theory hypothesizes that long-term memory does not only solely depend on the ability to process the information but a product of the learning and testing process (Bransford, et al, 2002). This theory is used in justifying the reasons at to why students perform well in multiple choice grammar tests than in writing where they are supposed to apply the grammar learnt.

Besides understanding the memory of students in order to enhance their class performance, educators have the role of ensuring that the students’ memory is enhanced. These strategies meant to improve their memory are aligned to the learning goals. Five learning goals are identified to enhance the educator improve the student’s memory.

  1. Which teaching strategy is able to catch the student attention?
  2. Which teaching strategy plays a key role to enable a student recall the past experiences?
  3. Which teaching strategy actively involves the students during the learning experience?
  4. Which teaching strategy is able enable the student to develop meaning?
  5. Which teaching strategy enables the student to demonstrate what they have learnt?

The strategies required to fulfill each of the above objectives are not mutually exclusively. More so, a strategy can employed to achieve several teach goals. The main goal of the above objectives is to improve the long-term-memory during the learning experience. In efforts to catch the student attention, is imperative to note that attention does not only entail looking at the educator. It entails the mind being focused on the teaching aids or other tools being used in class for some time. Attention is among the limited resources within the teaching experience and teachers always try to instruct, gain, and uphold the student’s attention. The strategies that educations can employ to catch the attention of students includes creating emotion, making them to realize the purpose of learning, using contrast, and use of signals or cues

In efforts to ensure that students recall the learning experience, it is important for the educator to know that learning should stimulate one’s urge to acquire new information. Among most people Woolfolk (2008) notes “What we already know determines to a great extent what we will pay attention to, perceive, learn, remember, and forget” (p. 247). Students can be aided to connect to their past experiences through use of metaphors, brainstorming, use of an anticipation guide and use of imagery among others.

The strategies that can be employed to enable the students to be actively involved in the learning process include the educator having an every student response during a lesson, enhancing cooperative learning, use of reciprocal learning/teaching, and employing hand-on teaching model, and employing simulation debates. In efforts for students to construct/ to develop meaning, educators should use some strategies such as the graphic organizers, having comprehension evaluation approaches, and use of writing due to the strong link between thinking and writing, among others. In efforts for students to demonstrate what they have learn, among the strategies an educator can use include mnemonics that includes the student using meaningful words on information that is less meaningful in efforts for the information to be stored in Thelon-term memory. There exist different types of mnemonics; these include recall enhancement strategy (Deshler & Schumaker, 2002).

After a valuable learning experience, it is a common incidence to forget. Forgetting occurs because of the inability for learners to store information in the long-term memory. With time and age, individuals also lose their ability to retrieve information from their long-term memory. Other factors that enable one to forget include interference may be due to accidents or diseases, recent effects, and insufficiency practice.

The process in which the learning experience derives its purpose through creation of a long-term memory is very critical for teaching/learning experience. The educators must understand the function of the student memory in respect to ability to perception, attention is very critical in efforts to enhance the student performance. The development of the long-term memory is the objective of every teaching learning process; therefore, educators should employ valuable strategies to improve the memory of learners. Upon employing the skills to facilitate development of long-term memory, the educators need to know that forgetting is part of the learning process and factors that are attributed to forgetting.


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Bransford, J. D., et,al, (2002). Differences in approaches to learning: An overview. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 3, 390-398

Clark, J. M., & Paivio, A. (2001). Dual coding theory and education. Educational Psychology Review, 3(3), 149-210.

Deshler, D. D. & Schumaker, J. B. (2002). Content enhancement series and learning strategies. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center for Research on Learning.

Henson, K. T., & Eller, B. E (2009). Educational psychology for effective teaching. Albany, NY: Wadsworth.

Matlin, M. W. (2009). Cognition. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Miller, G. A. (2006). The magical number seven, plus or minus two: Some limits on our capacity for processing information. Psychological Review, 63, 81-97.

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Schacter, D. et al (2012). Psychology : European Edition. Palgrave Macmillan.

Slavin, R. E. (2007). Educational psychology: Theory and practice. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Woolfolk, A. E. (2008). Educational psychology. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

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