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Unformatted text preview: lable working memory capacity is dedicated to decoding, and this Manuscript 9/28/03 25 adversely affects the comprehension processes needed to develop meaning (Laberge &
Enhancing the efficiency of working memory. The processing limitations of
working memory is a serious problem for learners. However, there are ways to enhance
the processing efficiency of working memory. One way that learners can enhance
working-memory efficiency is to use memory strategies. Memory Strategies are
techniques that can be used to improve a cognitive performance. Two strategies that can
be used to improve the efficiency of working memory are maintenance rehearsal and
chunking. If information is not kept active in working memory, it will be lost.
Maintenance rehearsal is the process of repeating information over and over to keep it
active in working memory. This is a common strategy used by many people when they
need to remember some piece of information for a short period of time. For example, you
my have had the experience of looking up a phone number and then walking to a
different room to use a phone. In such situational many people will repeat the number
over and over until they are able to dial the number.
Chunking is a second memory strategy that can have the effect of enhancing
working memory efficiency, and involves grouping information into larger meaningful
pieces of information. As you may recall from our discussion of working memory, the
capacity of working memory is limited to approximately 7 chunks of information.
However, the actual amount of information in a chunk may vary. For example, to a
learner reading a textbook, a prefix could be a chunk, an entire word could be a chunk,
and/or a phrase could also be a chunk. Teachers of beginning readers will often make use
of this idea by having these readers memorize sight words. These are words that can be
recognized on sight, and which do not have to be decoded sound by sound (e, g, the, and, Manuscript 9/28/03 26 was). Each sight word, therefore, is a chunk, and knowledge of sight words reduces the
number of words which have to be sounded out by the reader. The net effect is to reduce
the amount of working memory capacity needed for decoding. Consider how this idea is
used by Ella Milos.
⇒ I always have a pre-reading exercise in class before we begin reading a new
story. I begin by providing the students with a list of three or four words and
their definitions that I think are likely to be unfamiliar to the children. Then
the children complete an exercise in which they use the words to complete a
set of sentences. Finally they write sentences of their own using each of the
words on the list.
In addition to the use of memory strategies, another way learner deal with the
limited processing capacity of working memory is develop appropriate procedural
knowledge representations. Procedural representation is appropriate for routine mental or
physical skills that are likely to be used consistently in specific circumstances to
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This document was uploaded on 03/29/2014 for the course EPS 324 at N. Arizona.
- Spring '08