Psychological Perspective on Teaching and Learning

Some notes on yesterday’s talk about how memory and personality affect learning.


is retaining something over time. One popular model is the three stage model:

  • Sensory
  • Short term
  • Long term

Capacity of Memory

  • Short term memory: 7 +- 2 random numbers
  • Long term memory: unlimited capacity


  • some automatic, effortful = attention and conscious effort
  • Long-term potentiation
  • sleep helps to consolidate
  • Recognition = easy, recall = harder


  • Encoding failure
  • prior learning interference
  • retroactive interference (something new confuses existing information)

Strategies to enhance purposeful processing

  • repetition
  • deeper processing is better (i.e. process the meaning)
  • visual processing (works better with concrete concepts)
  • chunking
  • mnemonic
  • serial position (remember first and last better than middle)
  • spacing (short series of sessions)
  • self-testing and preparation – make own cues
  • context (same environment)

Personality Types and Learning Styles

The issue: many companies, schools, etc. assess these, but little empirical support or theoretical basis

Many of the ideas based on very old psychological theories, which are more philosophical than really based on research.

Personality is too complex to define and categorizing people into types as many personality tests do (e.g. Myers-Briggs). Same with learning styles.

Social Media

  • SMS/Twitter: those who text in class do worse due to lower attention, in class distraction
  • Blog: used to organized meetings
  • Blackboard: early users don’t do as well on coursework but do well on exams, constant users do best
  • Facebook: can be distracting in class, but not necessarily doing worse if doing somethng active like discussion



Used facebook to put real world examples of topics in psychology class with in-class discussion using semantic based questions.

No effect in self rating of engagement and understanding overall, but lower if no engagement.

No surprise really, but should we be using social media because there is a clash of academic and personal. Perhaps better in a blog or discussion board and posted afterwards.

Author: Cynthia

Technologist, Librarian, Metadata and Technical Services expert, Educator, Mentor, Web Developer, UXer, Accessibility Advocate, Documentarian

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