Understanding the Vault: LTM

In the second week of Learning Theories and Instruction, we turn our attention to the brain and how it functions with regard to learning, information processing, and retrieval. During this week’s research, I came across Dr. Connie Malamed’s article “Long-Term Memory: A User’s Guide” on her online blog The eLearning Coach where she outlines the basic characteristics and dynamics of long term memory.

How can Instructional Designer’s use the functions of the brain, with respect to LTM, to enhance information processing? Research shows that many compartments of the brain store and retrieve mental images as “both hemispheres of the brain work together to understand and respond to the world” (Ormrod, Schunk, & Gredler, 2009). In her article, Dr. Malamed contends that “long-term memory encompasses three operations: encoding, storage and retrieval”. In this process, the brain “writes” or encodes newly aqucired information across multiple paths and associates the information with previously acquired information in a process called assimilation. Exactly how much or how long information can be stored is unknown, but the majority of theorists contend that information stored in LTM never truly goes away, it just depends if the brain can access the information. Dr. Malamed states, “some cognitive psychologists think that not being able to remember something is more a failure of not having the right cue than the fact that the information is not present in long-term memory”. Retrieval cues stimulate the brain to recall and recognize LTM.

Based off this knowledge, Instructional Designers can plan to create learning environments that enhance the pathway of encoding and retrieving information. By grouping information, repeatedly rehearsing information, or categorizing information can assist the transfer and storage of information into LTM. “Chunking” of information can aid the user in storing the information to be recalled later.

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction. (Laureate Educations, custom edition). New York, NY.

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