Short Term Repetition

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            I read a blog that made me think about how we learn.  What makes us get that A on a Midterm, or get through finals week with multiple tests.  If someone sat down and studied all the information one time (unless they have a photographic memory) there's no way they would remember all the information, but we normally find a way to learn it all in the long run, how though?  The way we study and learn everyday things are all perfected through repetition.

            Every time we experience new things we learn from it.  If we experience something a second time, more nerve impulses are sent along the pathway made from the initial learned experience.  This repetition helps us strengthen how well we learn to know that specific thing.  "Repetition strengthens the connections between neurons and makes it easier for impulses to travel along the pathway."(2) This enhances the process of consolidation, "the process by which memories are moved from temporary storage in the hippocampus to more permanent storage in the cortex." (1) What this means in more simple terms is that repetition links what people memorize between where short and long term thoughts are stored in the brain.

            A study was done on 88 female college students that had weak natural science backgrounds and listened to a small passage about radar or Ohm's law one, two or three times (Ohm's laws have to do with electric currents and is based off a general physics background).  The amount recalled increased with more repetition.  It showed a pattern that recalling, "conceptual principles" and "related information increased", but at the same time it detected that "verbatim" (remembering it exactly word for word) declined.  (3)

            This study concludes that although this repetition did not make them memorize things word for word, it enhanced their overall knowledge on the passage they had read.  There are many things wrong with this study though.  First, they only used women that were in college.  This means no men, no different levels of knowledge between the individuals and only one small range of ages.  This may only conclude that women in college will benefit from repetition.  Even for that theory, they only studied 88 women, which is not a very large number.  Although the study still seems like it's right just because that's what everybody believes, they left out a big role in the study.  It never stated if they had a time constraint on how long they looked over the passage or a constraint on giving their feedback on it.  Although it seemed to be experimental, there were no control groups and no third variables were visibly taken out of the experiment. This next study suggests that feeling like your under pressure with only so much time can cause a difference in how well you can memorize things and the differences pressure plays on age.

            This study looked at the effects of "study-list repetition on false recognition" of things with similar associations examining age and recognition of time pressure.  Participants studied lists of words that were all strongly associated with a word not on the list.  During normal testing, people ages 19-26 falsely stated fewer unstudied words with lists presented several times than lists only seen once than the older participants ages 67-85.  During the experiment involving time pressure however, the older age group remembered a greater number of words from the lists presented multiple times than that of the younger age group. (4)

            I believe the second study shows that the first study needs revised and more detailed, but there are still several things wrong with the second study.  First off, they never state the number of participants in the study, how many are in each age group or account for a younger age group.  Secondly, by choosing words all similar to an associated word not on the lists, the words on the lists were most likely similar to one another as well if they all shared the same associated word.  This could trigger people's memory to more easily remember the other words or possibly guess some of them correctly.  This one also seems experimental and had two different groups, but still never stated any third variables that would need ruled out (i.e. people with dyslexia, ADHD, etc.).  

So, does it seem like it's worth cramming some extra information in before that exam tomorrow?  And how well can we really think when were down to the last couple minutes of an exam?









1 Comment

Wow this article is very interesting! Personally, when I attempt to study for a test a few days before hand I tend to forget some of the material.. There fore I tend to cram the day before hand and I am able to recall much better! Check out this article they have some interesting study tips!

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