The issue of memory has always been interesting for people. It has been investigated from different perspectives and with different aims. Conclusions of these investigations were different, however, there is no use denying the fact that this field of knowledge is of a great importance. Functions and peculiarities of the process of memorizing are not studied yet and have a lot of hidden factors. That is why; investigation of this process is a very important issue.
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Great numbers of different investigations were made in order to discover main aspects of memory and understand what factors influence the process of memorizing. The objective of this work is to determine how the use of mnemonics techniques can influence memorization. Basing on previous researchers, this one is, however, different, as it tries is to combine ideas obtaining and determining a role of some special techniques. This field is of a great interest for many different researchers. Klaus Oberauer in his article Access to Information in Working Memory: Exploring the Focus of Attention starts the investigation of the main process of memorizing. In the chain of experiments, he examines working memory (Oberauer, 2002).
Having carried out two experiments, Oberauer comes to the conclusion that information in working memory is highly organized and has its own structure and understanding of this structure can help to improve the work of the human brain and memory in the whole.
Investigations of the mechanisms of memorizing continue Veronika Coltheart, Stephen Mondy, Paul E. Dux and Lisa Stephenson. In their work Effects of Orthographic and Phonological Word Length on Memory for Lists Shown at RSVP and STM Rated they investigate effects of orthographic and phonological word length on memory (Coltheart, Mondy, Dux & Stephenson, 2004). To understand this influence, three experiments were carried out. Results these experiments showed, that there are two length effects peculiar for our memory which are based on orthographic and phonological length. (Coltheart et al., 2004).
Further investigations of this sphere are connected with the attempt to examine the influence of a Hebb repetition effect. The chain of 5 experiments were carried out and described by Mike P. A. Page, Nick Cumming, Dennis Norris, Graham J. Hitch and Alan M. McNeil in their work Repetition Learning in the Immediate Serial Recall of Visual and Auditory Materials. All five experiments were successful and managed to prove that Hebb repetition effect influences the process of memorization. Moreover, it is possible to observe the learning of repeating list regardless of whether phonological coding was evident (Cumming, Pag, Hitch, & McNeil, 2006).
Being an important step in understanding of some mechanism of the work of our memory, this work gives some new ideas for researchers. However, investigations of this issue continue and Jesse Sargent, Stephen Dopkins, John Philbeck and David Chichka undertook another study called Chunking in spatial Memory.
The main aim of this researcher is to understand the nature of human spatial representations and how blind rotation influences them. In order to support their search with evidences, they carried out the experiment in which people learned positions of the objects in the room and underwent different rotations. Results show that people remember location of the objects better while reflecting to their inter object relations and using some other kind of memory (Sargent, Dopkins, Phibeck, & Chichka, 2010).
One more important investigation of working memory was made by Valerie Camos in her work On the Law Relating Processing to Storage in Working Memory. The main goal of this work is to understand better peculiarities of the functioning of working memory and storing of information. These are also several experiences connected with this work which main aim is to investigate the relations between short term and working memory. Having carried out these experiments, the author comes to the conclusion, that short term memory is not just a subsystem of working memory, however, it can be referred as one of its extreme states (Camos, 2011).
That is why, basing on the results of these researchers, it is possible to suggest that mechanisms of memorizing are very complicated structures, which though, are organized according to certain principles. Understanding and investigation of these principles can improve the history of the process of memorizing and show better results in the end. That is why; it becomes obvious, that some techniques which take into account all these features will be able to improve memorization. The basis for these techniques is the relations between different aspects of the work of human memory. Being highly structured, it responds better to specially organized factors which are able to promote development of special connections in the brain of the person.
Having analyzed the data, it is possible to come to several conclusions. First of all, it should be said that the Mnemonics Techniques are prove to be effective as they are based on special process which are peculiar for people which suffer from some problems connected with memorizing or for people who just need to improve their memorization skills.
The total numbers of participants in the experiment were 69. We have selected college level students by sign-up participation to conduct this study on. The number of participants that were assigned to use peg words technique were 37 students. The number of participants that were assigned to use the repetition technique was 32 students. The gender demographic characteristic of the participants were 51 females and 18 males. All of our participants are between the ages of 18-40 years old. We conducted this experiment on both native and nonnative English speaking students. All participants volunteered to be part of our experiment and were given school credit for their participation.
Several items were be needed in order to conduct this experiment such as thirty flash cards with words on them, the list of words, the story with bolded words, pencils, blank sheets of paper, and a stop watch. The list of thirty words will be given to them prior to the experiment to help us determine which words they should memorize. The flash cards contain the words given to them to memorize. The story contains the words they’re to memorize in a different method than repetition. The pencil and paper is for the participants to report all the material memorized during the experiment. Lastly, the stop watch is to time them during every new word, this will allow for an objective result.
We will first read the consent form to the participants before commencing our experiment. All the participants will get the same thirty words and a total of three minutes to memorize as many as they can. Group A will try to memorize as many words possible using the peg word method. We will provide them with a short story containing all thirty words in bold [It all began with a runaway train. Marvel Man, the superhero in this story heard about the incident while watching the morning news on the television and he knew his help was needed. After all, no one else had the strength of ten elephants, the speed of a cheetah and the ability to fly.
Only he could save those passengers. Marvel Man lived in the city of Savewell. A place of skyscrapers and busy streets. A place where people didn’t always feel safe. A place where accidents happened and the accident on this particular day was a serious one. A gas explosion had damaged a piece of track and a high speed train carrying ninety passengers was hurtling out of control towards it, and even worse – the driver was unconscious. Would Marvel save the day? Marvel Man was soon on his way soaring above the city, heading towards the runaway train. He stopped briefly and stood on a roof top and used his amazing vision to scan the city below his red cape billowing in the wind.]
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Group B has the same goal but will use the repetition method to memorize the same thirty words which will be numbered and listed. They will be given ten seconds to memorize every word, the bell ring will indicate the participant to move on to the next word [train, superhero, incident, watching, television, help, strength, elephants, speed, passengers, city, skyscrapers, streets, feel, one, explosion, piece, carrying, ninety, hurtling, worse, driver, unconscious, soaring, stopped, roof, vision, scan, red, billowing]. Once the word “Stop” has been projected, they must immediately turn the paper over where they can no longer see the words.
Upon completion, they will be handed a blank sheet of paper where they will have to report the words they remember – they will be given two minutes to produce this information. The instructors will then verify the information and tally up the amount of words correctly remembered. The memorizing method that produces the most memorized words will be deemed as the better method for information retention.
Script: Hello everyone, please be seated. I am now going to distribute a demographic questionnaire. Please answer the questions as accurately as possible. When you are finished, turn it over and leave it on your desk.
*Group A-given story* I am now going to distribute three sheets. It contains a list of words, a story, and a blank paper. Please keep all papers face down until I tell you to turn it over. You will have 1 minute to read the list and be asked to turn it over. Then you will have three minutes to read the story. After the time is up, turn the paper back over and I will come and collect it. When I collect your story, I will also give you the pen that you need to write with. You will then write on the blank sheet all the bolded words from the story. You may now turn over your sheet and begin reading the list. Stop. Please turn your sheet face down and I will come to collect it.
You may now turn over your story and begin reading. Stop. Please use the pen that I gave you to write the bolded words you remember from the story. When you are finished, turn your answer sheet face down and raise your hand. I will come collect your answer sheet and pen. Thank you for participating in this study. Does anyone have any questions? Our study is about different forms of mnemonics and how they affect memory and recall. Thank you for your help.
*Group B-given list* I am now going to distribute two sheets. It contains a list of words and a blank paper. Please keep all papers face down until I tell you to turn it over. You will have four minutes to read the list and be asked to turn it over. After the time is up, turn the paper back over and I will come and collect it. When I collect your list, I will also give you the pen that you need to write with. You will then write on the blank sheet all the words you remember from the list. You may now turn over your sheet and begin reading the list. Stop. Please turn your sheet face down and I will come to collect it. Please use the pen that I gave you to write the bolded words you remember from the story. When you are finished, turn your answer sheet face down and raise your hand. I will come collect your answer sheet and pen. Thank you for participating in this study. Does anyone have any questions? Our study is about different forms of mnemonics and how they affect memory and recall. Thank you for your help.
We used a simple randomization technique in order to assign the different time slots into the two different groups. The simple randomization we used was an online random number generator (www.random.org) to give to each time slot that would determine which group they were placed in. If a participant received a number of 1-4, they were placed into group A (the group using peg word mnemonics) or if a participant received a number of 5-8, they were placed into group B (the group using repetition mnemonics.
An independent-samples t-test was conducted to compare methods of studying in story and flashcards conditions. There wasn’t a significant difference in the scores for the story (M=8.89, SD=3.921) and flashcard (M=8.44, SD=3.089) conditions; t(69)=1.042, p=.311.
These results suggest that story condition didn’t significantly improve memorization of words.
Specifically, our results suggest that when people have a story they don’t remember specific words better than by memorizing them on flashcards.
Results of the experiment provide the opportunity for discussion. First of all, is should be said that the results show that there is no significant difference in the scores of participants who use either story or flashcards for memorizing. This fact can serve as the evidence of a small difference between memorizing techniques and of the fact that specially created context does not help people to remember specific words better than flashcards.
However, there are also some limitations which should be mentioned as they could influence the experiment. First of all, it is possible to say that the researchers were limited in the number of participants. To obtain more credible and statistically significant results greater number of people should be involved in the experiment. Moreover, gender peculiarities should be given more attention.
However, these limitations could not influence credibility of the data obtained and conclusions made. Moreover, differences in the age of participants make the research more valuable as it is possible to analyze peculiarities of the functioning of memory at different stages of development of a human being.
However, taking into account the results obtained in the course of experiment, it is possible to suggest the idea of the low efficiency of the memorizing method which is based on the usage of context. It is possible to suggest that participants of the experiment are concerned about the main sense of a story, not aiming to remember every separate word. It should also be admitted that they can unconsciously forget about the main aim of the experiment, trying to remember as much information as it is possible, though, not distinguishing separate words (Oberauer, 2002). Besides, resting on the results of the experiment, it is possible to suggest the idea that flashcards help to create the needed atmosphere and make a person concentrated on memorizing of certain words or objects, which are repeated several times on cards (Cumming, Pag, Hitch, & McNeil, 2006).
With this in mind, it should be said that much attention should be given to instructions which describe the main procedure and behavior of the experiment. It can be recommended to define clearly what respondents should do in the course of experiment and what information they are expected to reproduce. Moreover, the world length should also be taken into account as it influences the process of memorizing greatly (Coltheart, Mondy, Dux & Stephenson, 2004).
However, these results can be construed in another way. Taking into account not significant differences between the answers of respondents, it is possible to suggest that both methods are either equally efficient or inefficient. In order to prove this statement another experiment should be conducted in which these methods will be compared with another ways of memorizing. The results will show the level of efficiency of every method.
Besides, having conducted experiment and analyzed results, it is possible to discuss its significance and importance for understanding the main mechanisms of memory and memorizing. It is obvious, that arbitrary memory can show better results than involuntary in a laboratory setting. Moreover, being concentrated on memorizing, people show better results (Sargent, Dopkins, Phibeck, & Chichka, 2010).
However, it is too assuming to state prevalence of one or another type of memory without their deep investigations. Moreover, results obtained in the course of experiment can be applied to different spheres of activity of human beings. Flashcards can be recommended for educational sphere as they show high level of the efficiency in memorizing separate words (Camos, 2011). That is why, these cards can be recommended for using at the lessons of foreign language.
Unfortunately, taking into account peculiarities of the conducted experiment, there was no possibility to determine and analyze the influence of gender differences on the process of memorizing as the majority of respondent were female. Moreover, mutual dependence between sex and memorizing technique could not also be investigated.
Taking into account peculiarities of the research and topicality of the issue, it is possible to state the fact that this work can be of a great importance both for common people and researches. Memorizing techniques, which were analyzed in the work, are widely used nowadays and that is why readers can be interested in peculiarities of their functioning and the level of their efficiency. Moreover, further investigations of this sphere are recommended as there are still many variables to determine and processes to analyze.
Camos, V. (2011). On the law relating processing to storage in working memory. Psychological Review. Web.
Coltheart, V., Mondy, S., Dux, P. E., & Stephenson, L. (2004). Effects of orthographic and phonological word length on memory for lists shown at rsvp and stm rates. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning , Memory and Cognition. Web.
Cumming, H. J., Pag, M. P., Norris, D., Hitch, G. J., & McNeil, A. L. (2006). Repetition learning in the immediate serial recall of visual and auditory materials. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. Web.
Oberauer, K. (2002). Access to information in working memory: Exploring the focus of attention. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. Web.
Sargent, J., Dopkins, S., Philbeck, J., & Chichka, D. (2010). Chunking in spatial memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. Web.