I love reading books, magazines, news articles, facebook, etc… I just finished reading a book called Armada. While reading this book I found myself making inferences as I created the scenes in mind. What is an inference you ask? An inference is when we use the knowledge we already have to go beyond the meaning of what is printed in the text (Goldstein, 2011). In the book Armada by Ernest Cline he starts off the book with the sentence “I was staring out the classroom window and daydreaming of adventure when I spotted the flying saucer.” When I read this sentence I began to infer that the teacher was still teaching the class while this was occurring. This story is a narrative story which means that it is an account of progressive events but can include flashbacks. As I continued reading I noticed I began making more and more inferences. There are more than one type of inference and I used all of them with this book. An anaphoric inference is when a person or object is connected by an inference from another sentence. This occurred numerous times just like this example, “The Sobrukai and their Glaive Fighters were fictional videogame creations. They didn’t exist in the real world-they couldn’t”. They in the second sentence was referring to the Sobrukai and Glaive Fighters which we made the inference from the previous sentence to figure out what the word they referred to. These types of inferences are fairly easy for us to make. Another type of inference that I used while reading was the casual inference which it can be inferred that the events described in one sentence were caused by events that occurred in the previous sentence according to Chapter 11 Language in our textbook (Goldstein, pg. 310). “When I finally lowered my fist I glanced at Casey and expected him to offer me a nod of thanks. But he was still cowering at his desk like a whipped dog, and he wouldn’t make eye contact with me.” This is an example from the story that you can make the casual inference that Lightman, the main character, frightened Casey when he had his fists raised and stood up to the bully that was bullying Casey by the reaction that Casey had from Lightman. Reading involves much more than just understanding the words and sentences and using inferences help us create the connections we need to help create the coherence, representation of what we read in our mind that relates one part of the text to another, and piece everything together. Next time you read a book, story, article or whatever it may be stop and really look at what you just read and I am sure you will find that you have been making some inferences yourself along the way.
Cline, E. (n.d.). Armada: A novel.
Goldstein, E. B. (2011). Cognitive Psychology: Connecting Mind, Research, and Everyday Experience. Wadsworth: Belmont, CA.
Everyone dreads studying for exams. I know that I dreads studying for exams. My girlfriend, Shayla, can remember everything she learns from her text book. One day I asked her, “How do you remember everything?”. Shayla looked at me and said “I make the information in to sentences that help me remember the concepts.” I still think she is super human for being able to memorize so much so quickly and easily but after learning about how encoding can help us retrieve information from our memory I began to understand this concept more.
So let me start at with encoding. Encoding is the way that we gather information and transfer it into our memory. For example Shayla uses encoding by placing words she needs to remember in to complex sentences. By placing words in complex sentences it helps create more connections between the word and the other things in the sentence. The other words in the sentence also help cue the retrieval of the word when Shayla needs to retrieve the words for her exam. You may wonder what retrieval means in this context. The process of remembering information stored in our long term memory and transferring it back to our working memory is what we call retrieval. (Goldstein, p.173) So for the example of Shayla, she accesses some of the information she encoded to help her retrieve the information from her long term memory.
Recently I have been trying to find ways that I can help information remain in my long term memory until I need it for my classes and exams. I have begun to try a new technique that I have learned from my great memory with directions. I am great with directions because I am good at remembering visual images. To help me use this in my classes I started pairing the information I was learning with images. This is another form of encoding that influences my retrieval performance. Take for example if I needed to remember the words head phones and cantaloupe. Separately remembering these words would be difficult for me to remember just as plain words but if I picture a cantaloupe with over the ear headphones on, I am much more likely to remember these two words. Forming visual images to create a connection with words can enhance memory.
I am still not a fan of exams and I still cannot use the same type of encoding as Shayla. One thing I have come to realize from our lessons about encoding and long term memory is that encoding can affect retrieval. The important part of this is that the way you encode information when you learn it is going to affect if you can retrieve it from your long term memory. Try both types of encoding that Shayla and I use and see if they work for you.
Goldstein, E. B. (2011) Cognitive Psychology Connecting Mind, Research, and Everyday Experience 3rd Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
A man by the name of B.F. Skinner changed the way we looked at behaviors. As a graduate student at Harvard (Goldstein, 2011, p. 10) he presented an approach that is still used today. This was the time of behaviorism, in American psychology, when psychologists were shifting their focus to the study of behavior from the study of the mind.
I have worked in schools and for private companies as a behavior technician. A behavior technician works with those who have behavioral issues. I would observe their behaviors and record data. From that data I would identify the functions of the behaviors and come up with a plan to decrease the undesired behaviors and reinforce the positive behaviors. As a behavior technician I have used the works of B.F Skinner and his idea of operant conditioning. B.F. Skinner introduced operant conditioning, which observed how the use of reinforcement strengthens behavior. (Goldstein, 2011, p. 10) As a behavior technician I used operant conditioning to help increase the positive behavior and decrease the undesired behavior.
I worked with a student who had verbal outbursts, yelling or screaming above speaking level, every one and a half minutes. This behavior was very disruptive to their opportunity to learn while in class. To strengthen the appropriate behavior they were reinforced every 45 seconds for having a quiet voice, which meant no verbal outbursts. The verbal outburst behavior began to decrease slightly by the end of the day. This reinforcement was continued for weeks until the outbursts were close to one every two hours.
There are other additions to the study of behavior that B.F. Skinner has given us since the 1938 introduction of operant conditioning, but this is where it all stems from. (Goldstein, 2011, p. 11) Operant conditioning allows us to increase the desired behavior with reinforcement. When the undesired behavior is not reinforced it tends to decrease. This technique is used in classrooms that have students with behavioral issues, residential programs with those with intellectual disabilities and with those with autism. It is not limited to just these populations but these are just a few to name that staff are increasing positive behavior using operant conditioning.
Goldstein, E. (2011). Introduction to Cognitive Psychology. In Cognitive psychology: Connecting mind, research, and everyday experience (3rd ed., p. 10-11). Wadsworth Cengage Learning.