Tuesday, November 3, 2009
During one of my recent proffesional development seminars, I learned that many high school seniors have extremely short "spans." A span is the amount of items one can hold in their short term memory at one time. The teacher running the proffessional development seminar said that it is usual for her seniors to have a span of 2. The average adult, today, has a span of 5 to 7. Her argument was that young people do not need to memorize things anymore-- they just jot it in their cell phone for later. I am very interested in this phenomena. As a future biology teacher, I know that students must be able to manipulate multiple vocabulary words at once to build complex ideas. If students are only able to keep two ideas in their head at once, how are they to build the connections between ideas necessary for long term memory retrieval? I love that technology has helped people stay organized and have vasts amounts of information at our fingertips. I think students may need some old school practice, though, on how to think about multiple things at once in order to create thinking schemes. I could be wrong, though. If people have access to technology all of the time, could they use it as pseudo working memory? This new information is particularly important to me because I am in a discipline with many new vocabulary words and facts. I believe these terms and ideas need to clumped into categories, a mental schema, and linked or spiraled to many other concepts for full understanding. However, I was thinking of having roughly five over arching categories each time...I think only two categories could be limiting. I definitely need to do more research on the topic.