Long-Term Memory Problems in Children and Adolescents: Assessment, Intervention, and Effective Instruction

By Milton J. Dehn | Go to book overview

8 CHAPTER
Classroom Instruction That Supports
Memory

A frequently expressed educational outcome for students is that they will “learn to learn.” This worthy goal refers to students acquiring skills that allow them to successfully acquire knowledge on their own. Curiously, educational outcomes never refer to “learning to remember.” Although the goal is not overtly expressed, most educators would say that they are certainly teaching their students how to remember, just as they are teaching them how to learn. Yet, memory skills, or what teachers might call memorization techniques, are taught like learning strategies and study skills. That is, instruction in study skills is variable and often so indirect that most older students and adults will report that they were never taught study skills in school. This circumstance is unfortunate, given the importance of well-honed and sophisticated study skills for success in post-secondary education. The missed opportunity to explicitly teach memory skills to all K–12 students is also a concern, especially in view of the fact that a child’s memory development depends heavily on education. As Schneider (2010, p. 71) said, “Most of memory development is not so much a product of age but of education and practice.”

Teachers are quite capable of effectively teaching critical memory strategies that will further memory development and enhance long-term memory functioning. Whether they realize it or not, they are encouraging memory development and the learning of strategies by the learning demands they place on their students. Many students will respond to the challenge by adopting tried and true memorization practices, such as repeating information over and over. Some students will go on to discover more efficient and effective strategies, such as using imagery or semantic clustering. However, the students who are most in need of sound memory strategies (those with memory problems) are least likely to discover and utilize effective strategies on their own. Consequently, the U.S. educational system could increase the amount of lifelong knowledge that students acquire by making the explicit teaching of memory strategies a priority.

The nation’s hard-working teachers already have a lot on their instructional plates. Fortunately, teachers who adopt more memory-enhancing teaching techniques and incorporate memory strategy training into their instruction may reap rewards in much the same way that a teacher who improves his or her classroom

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