Human Memory and Knowledge Construction: Increases in Student Learning
It is essential to help students effectively store and retrieve information from their long-term memory. Human memory is related to the way information is received, interpreted, stored, and retrieved. In short, information is brought into the sensory register. The stimulus then moves into the working memory and is then stored in the long-term memory. An understanding of Piaget’s theory of knowledge construction helps teachers to guide meaningful lessons and conversations that maximize student learning. It is therefore crucial that teachers understand human memory and learning as well as strategies to enhance these aspects in the classroom to support student learning. An understanding of memory is essential for teaching students. Memory is the process of storing and retrieving information and behaviors. Human memory has several components that are essential for effective storage and retrieval. Storage is the process of taking what was presented and placing it in a location in the brain’s storage space for later retrieval. Retrieval is the process of recalling the information that was previously stored. One way to think about this part of memory is to think of the brain like a file system. Although it is not entirely accurate, this analogy works to describe parts of the storage and retrieval process. In this way, the brain is like a filing cabinet. There are files for many concepts and the information is stored according to these files. This is a person’s schema; Schema is an organized set of information about a topic. For example, a person could have a schema for beaches. This schema would contain information such as white sand, the sound of seagulls, and tide pools. If this was a file system, there would be a file labeled beaches, and inside of that file would be information, pictures, and memorabilia related to beaches. One way that human memory is different from a filing system is that one piece of information could be stored in connection to more than one schema. One way to think about this is like a web, where the central idea is in the center, and ideas and information come from the center into sub categories. These subcategories can also have other subcategories, and can be connected to other ideas and concepts. Retrieval is related to the filing system, also. In this way, when a person is looking for information, they go to the file where the information is stored and pull out what they need. When a person is retrieving information for their memory, they use retrieval cues in a similar manner. Retrieval cues are stimuli that help people recall information. This too is related to a person’s schema as well as the web analogy. In this way, when a person smells a certain scent, like pine trees, they pull forward all the schemas that contain the smell of pine trees. This allows the brain to go through a smaller amount of stored information for a faster retrieval. In this example, schemas of Christmas, the woods, and grandma’s house may be brought forward. When information is not stored in an appropriate schema, retrieval is more difficult and slower than if it were stored in a memorable place. This is important for student education and the teaching process. It is important for teachers to help students to store information learned in class in order to improve retrieval and make connections across schemas. There are three places that a stimulus can go. The first is the sensory register. This is where the brain decides whether or not the stimulus is necessary for a person to consciously consider. This means that some things make it to the working memory and some things are ignored. This is important because people are exposed to many stimuli at the same time and if attention was paid to all of them, the person would not be able to concentrate on any given stimulus. This is often a large problem for students with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)....
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