Peter Doolittle: How your “working memory” makes sense of the world
Last week, there were two significant ideas in the “Memory and Learning” forum topic. The first was that memory is a learned habit and thus if individuals used the right techniques, they can enhance their memorization ability which I consider the core of the topic and second was “information that has strong emotional component has a high likelihood of being permanently stored” (Barkley, 2010, p.22) the later caught my attention as soon as it was given to me by my colleague and facilitator of this forum Eleanor Knight to highlight the connection between emotions and memory retention, perhaps because I am a strong advocate of how emotions are an ever present part of teaching.
The connection between memory and emotions is clear even without proof or research for example, the majority of us tend to remember movie scenes, songs or poems that emotionally strum the heart-strings. The scientific explanation given is that the amygdala’s activation correlates with greater retention of information in our long-term memory i.e. amygdala is the primary component involved in emotional memory (Education world, n.d.).
As educators, recently we come realize that emotions are central to adult learning experience just as they are for kids, information retention is one of the many benefits of incorporating emotions. And thus we are more thoughtful about using instructional strategies that incorporate emotions. Here are few examples of those strategies:
Visuals: as well said “a picture is worth a thousand words” and thus images speak directly to emotional centers in the brain.
Stories: they have emotional components as people perceive their own and others’ lives in a narrative form and thus it attract the amygdale, and the sequence and reasoning within the story make sense to the hippocampus(Education world, n.d.). If the educators feels that they aren’t skilled in narrating stories they could use digital Storytelling instead .
Pedagogical Humor: humor integrated with learning material positively impacts memory retention and recall. A study by Kaplan and Pascoe (1977), showed that, student tend to remember humorous items more than non-humorous items in a post-test performed six weeks after the learning session, which shows that humor is effective in retention of information (Whisonant, June 2).
Games: Learning through play is one of the most powerful ways, the ability to role-play and problem-solve through games is the ideal environment for emotional arousal, and while students are undergoing those different emotional experiences whether enjoyment or pursuing the in-game challenges, the brain marks connections for later memory encoding.
Collaborative tools: as students build relationships, cooperate on tasks, and provide support and feedback to each other, their emotions are tapped and so as their memorization ability.
By the end of this post , I would like to highlight that emotions are treasures that need to revealed by research and support of our educational institutes so we are able to find out the right keys and practices to incorporate emotions effectively for the benefit of students.
Barkley, E. F. (2010). Student Engagment Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty .San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- Education World.(n.d.).Brain-Friendly Teaching: Strategies to Improve Memory. Retrieved from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/profdev/profdev156.shtml
- Whisonant, R.(1988, June 2).The Effects of Humor on Cognitive Learning in a Computer-Based Environment. the Faculty of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Retrieved from https://theses.lib.vt.edu/theses/available/etd-71798-173628/unrestricted/Whisonant.pdf.