One of humanities’ greatest strength is our capacity to learn, although not all methods of learning were created equal. If humanity is to continue to grow as a species our methods of learning must continue to grow and improve. This experiment illustrates how different methods of encoding can affect how information is retained. Nine hundred and ninety nine participants were presented with 26 pairs of words under both semantic and phonemic conditions and then tested to see how many they could recall. Participants were also asked to assess themselves prior to the experiment. It was found that most people overestimated their abilities and did not take into account the method of encoding.
Memory and Self Assessment 3
Levels of Processing and their effect on Information Retention
Do we perceive our ability to retain information accurately?
Significant time and effort has been invested into researching memory and the effect the depth of processing has on the ability to recall words. Research has shown that semantic encoding has resulted in significantly better word retention than such as phonemic encoding
(Craik & Tulving 1975). When asked to estimate their ability to perform in tasks involving memory, the majority of people will not take the method of encoding into account and will estimate inaccurately (Dunning, Heath & Suls 2004).
The reason that semantic encoding has resulted in a better word retention than phonemic is due to the variation in the depth of processing. Sensory interpretations such as the sound or appearance of a word are processed at shallower levels and produce only shortterm recall. These levels are involved in phonemic encoding, for example grouping words together depending on how they sound, such as TRAIN and SPAIN. Deeper levels of processing concern the meaning of the word and result in a more long-term recollection.
These levels are involved in semantic encoding, grouping words
References: Craik, F.I.M. Levels of processing: Past, present … and future? Memory, 2002, Vol 10, No. 5/6. 305-318 Craik, F.I.M., & Tulving, E. Depth of Processing and the Retention of Words in Episodic Memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 1975, Vol. 104, No. 3. 268-294 Dunning, D., Heath, C., & Suls, J.M. Flawed Self-Assessment: Implications for Health, Education and the Workplace. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 2004, Vol. 5, No. 3. 69-106 Lewandowsky, S. & Hockley, W.E. Does CHARM Need Depth? Similarity and Levels-of- Processing Effects in Cued Recall. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 1987, Vol. 13, No. 3. 443-455