Memory and Complex Learning Essay Akinlabi Hubbard Capella University

Quarter & Year: Spring 2012 E-mail: Instructor: Dr. Kate Emmons

Metacognition is the process of using one’s knowledge of effective learning and cognitive strategies to enhance learning (Ormrod, 2008, p.389). The more metacognitively skilled a person is, the higher that will person will be able to achieve in classes or courses. Metacognition involves being aware of one’s current learning capabilities and being able to set realistic goals or accomplishments (Ormrod, 2008, p.352). It also involves distinguishing effective and noneffective learning strategies. This may vary from person to person. Some students may learn adequately from simple rote memory, but most students need to associate pictures with certain terms in order to retain their significance. The student should choose a learning method that is meaningful in the long term and thus adopt a successful approach to learning the material. The effective metacognitive learner is able to recognize when meaningful learning has taken place and should be able to retrieve previously stored material to demonstrate that learning has taken place. (Ormrod, 2008, p.352) This process involves using the dual-store concept of human memory. Dual-store means that new information is processed into our sensory register and then into our short term and/or long term memory (Ormrod, 2008, 168). The sensory register holds information for a few seconds, long enough for us to cognitively process it or decide if it needs to be retained and for how long. As a student, I have experienced many opportunities to enhance my metacognitive abilities. One memorable experience came about when I took a First Aid course during my sophomore year in college. We were taught several first aid techniques for a variety of situations (CPR, treating sprains and strains, splinting broken or fractured bones). In so doing, our instructor used mostly visual and tactile methods, as well as kinesthetic demonstrations to show us correct (and sometimes incorrect) examples of each of the steps in every lesson. Following her demonstration, we were left to pair or group together and practice using whichever first aid

techniques we were currently studying. Reflecting upon this activity from a cognitive point of view, I believe that metacognition, self-regulated learning, and identifying effective learning strategies played huge roles in my ability to successfully perform in the course. As mentioned above, metacognition involves the ability to effective use one’s knowledge about their thinking abilities to develop effective strategies for gaining and retaining information. For an individual to adequately accomplish this, one must be able to process information pass the sensory register to the working memory and then into the long-term memory as accessible explicit knowledge (Ormrod, 2008). The amount of time it takes for this to occur varies from individual to individual and involves any number of factors, one of which is whether the knowledge gained fulfills some personal significance for an individual. Additionally, to become involved in self-regulated learning is for a person to identify what best motivates them to learn and to let this motivation be their beacon towards identifying effective learning strategies that will enable their success (Ormrod, 2008). In my case, my drive to retain the first aid techniques was motivated by my desire to (a) pass the course and (b) to have these live-saving practices accessible in case someone close to me needs help. It was this personal significance that influenced my attention span in this class. It also influenced me to engage in self-regulated learning. I motivated myself to practice the first aid techniques on my own outside of class, so that the actions, not just the words, would be committed to memory. With regards to memory, my sensory register took in these first aid concepts via visual, tactile/kinesthetic, and auditory means. Visual aspects consisted of seeing the demonstrations of techniques like CPR or how to splint a fracture; reading the steps in the text and looking at the accompanying illustrations, photos, and diagrams. Tactile/kinesthetic aspects consisted of actually performing the techniques on my partners or on a practice dummy. Auditory aspects

consisted of listening to the instructor’s lectures and directions and listening to myself repeating the steps as I simultaneously practiced performing first aid. From these, I engaged in identifying my most effective learning strategies. By consciously putting all three of these sensory aspects into practice in tandem, I was able to commit what I learned in my first aid classes to my long term memory. Additionally, when learning and memorizing these techniques, several of them had mnemonics (a notable example being RICE for treating a sprained ankle-Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate) that made the procedures easier for me to remember once I associated them with certain situations. Similarly, note taking had a fair share of enabling me to memorize different concepts, especially in the form of flash cards. Being that this knowledge was procedural in nature, I was constantly monitoring, evaluating, and reflecting upon my performance to ensure that I made progress toward being able to correctly perform the procedures necessary to save a person’s life. By way of this process, I had identified my best learning strategies to be repeated hands-on experience, note-taking, and use of mnemonics. I truly believe that this experience is proof that memory and learning theory are directly related. Ormrod (2008) states that learning is the acquisition of new information or skills and that learning something new does not automatically guarantee that it will be remembered for any significant length of time (p. 167)

References Cited: Ormrod, J. E. (2008). Human learning (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ, USA: Pearson.

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