The application of a technique for enhancing recall to improve learning in the science classroom
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There has existed for many years a memory enhancement technique ("memory pegs") that although having dramatic demonstrable success in some individual cases has not been generally applied in education. The emergence of constructivist epistemology has emphasised the notion that learning occurs as a result of connecting new material with previously learnt concepts. There is, therefore, the implication that effective learning requires some previous knowledge upon which to attach new concepts - and thus realisation of the importance of learning with respect to acquiring factual information as a prerequisite to learning new processes and/or skills. This issue has focussed my attention on the need to ensure that the more physiological skills of accessing 'memory', both for learning and recall, are optimised for maximum learning. Further, there are some indications that the physiological skills of memory access (storage and retrieval) may respond favourably to training and 'exercise'. This study was designed to find out whether or not a repeated 'exercise' using a simple memory enhancement technique would lead to a determinable and statistically significant increase in overall performance in a range of cognitive skills (as indicated by science and mathematics examination results), whether learning such a technique would affect a student's attitudes towards science, whether there was a relationship between the amount of time spent practicing the technique and the degree of effect, and whether the memory technique did actually improve the ability to recall lists of objects. Although the analysis of data gathered during the course of this study did support an observation that there was a general increase in achievement in assessments, the improvement in results was not dramatic enough to be significant. No effect on attitudes towards science was evident. The data gathered concerning the amount of practice time proved to be insufficient to determine a trend. Within the limitations of the research, the data showed that the ability to remember a list of objects had been significantly improved, there was no clear evidence of transference of this ability to result in improved examination or assessment results.
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