Memory is more than Ebbinghaus

Donald H Taylor, Jul 26, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Good post which to me shows why we can't simply rely on mechanical generalizations to understand learning. Donald Taylor writes on Herman Ebbinghaus's 'forgetting curve', which basically shows how memories decline over time (and can be extended by being refreshed at increasingly long intervals). But as Taylor points out, "in memory experiments, the content you learn is meaningless." Indeed, they deliberately use nonsense syllables in order to control for the effect of meaning and context. All very fine, but learning is all about meaning and context. It's how what we are remembering fits into a pattern. Taylor points to another well-known investigation, in which Chase and Simon (1973) shows that expert chess players remember the positions of players much better than novices, simply because they recognize patterns. If you're not testing for pattern recognition, you're not testing for knowledge and learning.

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