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Teaching Guide
Feeling Pressured
Memory Matters
Getting the Minerals Out
image of cards

There are three general types of memory: sensory, short-term and long-term memory. Sensory memory temporarily stores information detected by our senses. Short term memory stores things we focus upon for a fraction of a second. As you saw in "Memory Marathon," there are several tricks and techniques (such as chunking data into small bits or constructing associations) that can improve long-term memory. Here's your chance to test your own memory using a simple deck of playing cards. You'll have five basic challenges to test, explore, and improve your memory skills. Although everyone won't obtain the same results, the things you learn might help you develop a better awareness of thinking skills and strategies that work best for you!



 

OBJECTIVE

This activity page will offer:

  • a lab experience that employs memory skills
  • an opportunity to explore and develop memory boosting strategies
  • an opportunity to design and test strategies for inquiry

MATERIALS

  • deck of cards
  • masking tape
  • marker

PART 1-MISSING CARD

PROCEDURE

STUDENT NOTE: Before you engage in the following activities, think about what you learned in this SAF show. Are any of the memory strategies applicable to the following activities? Is so, how would you best "tweak" them to fit your own learning style? Once you think you've created a model for improving your memory performance, test it in the following trials. Who knows, you just might create your own memory-boosting system.

Work with a partner.

  1. Remove all of the hearts from the deck. For this activity, you'll only work with the 13 cards of this suit.
  2. One student assumes the role of researcher, while the other becomes the subject.
  3. The researcher randomly removes four cards from the stack of 13. Neither the researcher nor subject should view these cards.
  4. The researcher calls out the name of each card that is left in the stack of nine-one card per second. When all the cards have been called out, the subject must identify the missing four cards. Record the number of recalled cards and value of each card that was recalled.
  5. Reshuffle the cards and repeat this same test two more times. Remember to record both the number of recalled cards and the value of each card that was recalled.
  6. Now, switch roles. The former researcher assumes the role of the subject. The former subject becomes the researcher.

QUESTIONS

  1. What was the average number of cards recalled by each subject?
  2. Did the ability to remember cards improve with each trial?
  3. Was the ability to remember cards associated with the value of the specific cards?
  4. Suppose a four-card straight was removed from the stack. How would this affect the ability to identify the missing cards
  5. Suppose the jack, queen, king, and ace were removed. Would this make the challenge easier or more difficult? Why?

ANALYSIS

Pool the class results. Identify and discuss any trends observed by the groups. Was there a correlation between the number of cards recalled and gender? Did "going second" affect the ability to remember cards? Were any cards easier to remember than others? Which ones and why? What were some of the memory strategies used to recall the cards?

ON YOUR OWN

Design an experiment to test whether it is easier or more difficult to identify cards that have been removed from a deck when the deleted cards are sequential. State your hypothesis, then test your hypothesis. Share your results with the class.

PART 2-HEARING A SEQUENCE

Work with a partner.

  1. Remove all of the jacks, queens, and kings from the deck (12 cards).
  2. One student assumes the role of researcher, while the other becomes the subject.
  3. The researcher shuffles these twelve cards.
  4. Then, the researcher calls out the names of the twelve cards in the order in which they appear - one per second.
  5. After listening to the sequence, the subject must repeat the order. Record the results.
  6. Repeat this trial two more times.
  7. Now, switch roles. The former researcher assumes the role of the subject. The former subject becomes the researcher.

QUESTIONS

  1. How many cards were successfully identified in order?
  2. People are more apt to remember beginning and ending cards. Did your findings support this phenomenon?
  3. Did memory improve with practice?

ANALYSIS

Pool class results. Identify and discuss any trends observed by groups. Discuss different learning styles and how individual sensory preferences may affect memory. Can competency in foreign language be connected to this activity? Why or why not? Did performance improve with each trial?

PART 3-SEEING A SEQUENCE

  1. Work with the same partner and the stack of jacks, queens, and kings used in the previous activity.
  2. Again, the researcher shuffles these twelve cards. Then, the researcher shows each card-one by one to the subject, placing each face down afterwards.
  3. After seeing the sequence, the subject must identify the order in which the cards were presented. Record these results.
  4. Now, switch roles. The former researcher assumes the role of the subject. The former subject becomes the researcher.

QUESTIONS

  1. How many cards were successfully identified this time?
  2. Compare and contrast the results obtained in this test with the results obtained in Part 2.
  3. Does the type of input -hearing versus seeing- affect the memorization?

ANALYSIS

Pool the class results. Identify and discuss any trends observed by the groups. Which memorization strategies were most effective? Which strategies appeared to have no affect?

ON YOUR OWN

Are two sensory inputs better than one? How might seeing and hearing the sequence affect the ability to recall the order? Develop a strategy for this inquiry. Test your design and share your results with the class.

PART 4- NAME THAT FACE

  1. Work with the same partner and the previous stack of jacks, queens, and kings.
  2. The researcher assigns a familiar first name to each of the royalty cards. That name is written on a small strip of masking tape and affixed to the back of each playing card.
  3. The subject is given the stack of cards (with taped names attached) and allowed several minutes to memorize the names.
  4. The researcher takes back the cards and shuffles the order. As the face of each card is displayed, the subject must identify the name associated with the card. Record these results.
  5. Repeat this test two more times, but keep the names the same.
  6. Now, switch roles. The new researcher must assign a brand new set of names to the cards before presenting this memory challenge.

QUESTIONS

  1. How many "faces" could a subject name?
  2. Were any face cards easy or more difficult to identify? Why?
  3. What sort of things made a name easier to associate with a face
  4. Did you use any memory tricks to help associate a name with a face? If so, what were they?

ANALYSIS

Pool the class results. Identify and discuss any trends observed by the groups. Which memorization strategies were most effective? Which strategies appeared to have no affect?

ON YOUR OWN

Suppose you used only number cards (no jacks, queens, or kings). Would an assigned name to a number card be easy or more difficult to recall? Make a guess. Then, design an experiment that would test this concept. Test your hypothesis, gather data, and share your results with the class.

PART 5-TWO OF A KIND

Work with a partner.

  1. Remove all of the hearts and clubs from the deck. For this activity, you'll only work with these 26 cards.
  2. The cards are shuffled and arranged facedown in five rows. The top four rows contain six cards each. The bottom row contains only two cards. Neither partner knows the identity of the cards.
  3. The student with the birthday closest to April 1 goes first. That student must select and turn over two cards. If the cards have a matching face value, that person removes the pair and places them in their stack. If the cards don't match, they are turned back over.
  4. The next player selects any two cards. If they are a match, then the pair is removed from the pattern. If not, they are flipped back over.
  5. By remembering the placement of cards, each player can develop a strategy for winning.
  6. The game ends when the final pair is removed. The winner has the most cards in her or his stack.

QUESTIONS

  1. Did the position in the pattern affect the ease at which a card was memorized?
  2. Did the placement of certain cards affect the ease with which they were memorized? Explain.
  3. Suppose that points were assigned to card values. Would this affect your ability to recall positions? Why?

ANALYSIS

Pool the class results. Identify and discuss any trends observed by the groups. Which memorization strategies were most effective? Which strategies appeared to have no affect?

WEB CONNECTION

Mindtools.com
Memory techniques and mnemonics

NASA Memory Site
Interactive memory site by NASA with experiments and background information

Northwestern University
questions and answers on learning and memory

"Memory Matters" and "Getting the Minerals Out" were contributed by Michael Dispezio, a Massachusetts-based science writer and author of "Critical Thinking Puzzles" and "Awesome Experiments in Light & Sound" (Sterling Publishing Co., NY).

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