Sunday, 24 February 2013

Memory and Education

Blog is incomplete at the moment - plan on adding to it at a later date! 

Psychology has always interested me, particularly in regards to memory because I always question myself - was what I remembered true? Could I remember those faces if I saw them again? Did I lock the front door? Would I remember where the 'safe place' I put my money was?

So I started to look at what defined memory in itself, and I know there have been different models but who is to agree with any particular one? I'm sure they all cover at least one valid point!

I used the Oxford Dictionary (2010) to give me a definition of memory - 'The faculty by which the mind stores and remembers information'. But it isn't as simple as that, is it? You don't write a shopping list for the hell of it, you write it because your mind considers it not important enough to store.

Having read different web pages in the hope of coming across varied research, and studying Psychology in A-Level, I came to the conclusion that memory can vary in complexity, depth of the information and the length of time at which it is stored for.

Relating to education, memory improvement seemed most logical. Having looked at the links provided below, a number of strategies to improve memory became apparent, and I have tried to link these to education:

  • Chunking - a process where large pieces of information are broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks. In schools, children are asked to remember a lot of dates, particularly in History. A teacher could encourage a child to chunk relevant dates into a large number, allowing them to recall the dates with little difficulty - 193919451066 (1939 - World War 2 begins, 1945 - World War 2 finishes and 1066, the Battle of Hastings).
  • Cramming - This was not so much a memory improvement strategy, but one which was advised by most sources as to be avoided. Some sources, such as the BBC (2006) suggested that cramming was to be minimised to small amounts of time, and that this should be avoided if possible. From listening to others, it sounds like a lot of schools do not plan effectively ALWAYS, where a terms worth of work will be crammed into half a term because they over ran on another topic. Granted, this cannot always be helped but this will not improve a child's memory. 
  • Implementation intentions - These can also be known as cues, where an individual is encouraged to complete one process after another which the individual does without consciously remembering - an example with this was taking a tablet after a morning cup of tea, something which most people do in the morning. In schools, children could learn to use cues by looking at a particular piece of information at the same time each day (spellings before bed, for example) where children will repeat the process without noticing. 
  • External aids - This is something which schools can easily implement through the use of diaries, calendars, placing objects in conscious places (fruit by the door) to help children to improve their memory processes outside of school. Although, that does not have to be the case - these external aids can also be used inside of school.

Further Reading and References
Oxford Dictionaries (2010) 'Memory' , Oxford University Press [Online] Available at:

Monday, 18 February 2013

Gibson and Gregory

My understanding so far of Gibson and Gregory:

There are two opposing views in regards to perception - Gibson who argued humans processed information in a bottom-up method and Gregory (1970) who proposed a top-down method.

The bottom-up method (Gibson) meant that information was processed one way, where a person analyses a piece of raw data and this analysis increases as it makes its way through the visual system. Gibson argued that perception is direct and the environment provides enough information to make sense of our world.

The top-down method (Gregory) refers to the information which helps us to recognise patterns, mostly used in optical illusions. Gregory said this is because the meaning of surrounding words help to aid understanding.

Gibson claimed 'what you see is what you get' and there is no need for processing and interpretation, which Greogry says is necessary.
perception - Gibson optic array
McLeod, S. (2007) Visual Perception Theory [Online] available at: (Accessed 16 February)

Gibson's theory contained three important features:
  1. Optic flow patterns
    1. Light flow contains important information about the movement of a stimulus
  2. Invariant features
    1. A pattern or structure is available in texture gradients which is invariant, always occuring in the same way as we move around the environment and this helps cue depth.
  3. Affordances
    1. Optical Array - the patterns of light that reach the eye from the environment
    2. Relative brightness - brighter, clearer images are perceived as closer
    3. Texture gradient - grain of textures gets smaller as the objects get further away
    4. Relative size - objects with small images are seen as more distant
    5. Superimposition - if the image of one object blocks another, the first is seen as closer.
    6. Height in the visual field - objects further away are generally higher in the visual field
McLeod, S. (2007) Visual Perception Theory [Online] available at: (Accessed 16 February)
So how does this relate to education?
Gibson said that people perceived what is in their direct field of vision, and that no further analysis is required to receive all the relevant information. I believe this is difficult to do, because children are not always able to gain the relevant information from a stimulus which they have not seen before.

Gregory said that information is gained from the relationship between the eye and the brain, where different factors influence the information someone receives. I have noticed through personal experience that when looking at optical illusions, when younger I have not been able to see both images in an illusion, but looking at it again at an older age, I have been able to see both images or use the stimuli to pick apart the parts I can see, to find the images or illusions which I cannot see.

Faults with Gibson's Theory of Perception
  • Gibson cannot explain why perceptions are sometimes inaccurate. He claimed optical illusions are extremely artifical and are unlikely to be encountered in the real world.
  • Gibson's theory cannot explain naturally occuring illusions, such as a train in the horizon.
McLeod, S. (2007) Visual Perception Theory [Online] available at: (Accessed 16 February)
Noe, A. Direct Perception, [Online] Available at: