Deep Processing

According to the Level of Processing Theory, memory depends on how information is encoded. The deeper the processing is the better encoding and retrieval than shallow processing. Memory depends on how information is programmed in your mind. So in order to see the desired results on an exam, which for me would be an “A”, I would have to develop a method that would allow me to remember what I’ve studied. I can shallow process by re-reading passages, review highlighted notes, and even use index cards to review my notes, but if I don’t associated the content with a connection relating to the subject, it’s very well possible that nothing will stick and I will be unable to retain the information I require to pass the exam. With that being said, what is deep processing?

For as long as I can remember, as a student in school, from elementary to college, I have always had to study for a test. Some courses required no effort in studying at all, while others required immense dedication. As a pupil in high school, I can remember coming home after school in the afternoon and sitting down at the dining room table and not getting up till after midnight; trying to prepare for an exam or quiz, using my flashcards, Cornell style notes, and even information that I had highlighted in my textbooks. However, the problem wasn’t in the note taking; it wasn’t even the preparation and organization of my gathered information. The conundrum was remembering all the information that I tried to encode in my mind when it came time to take my test. When it came down to taking the actual test, I would panic and become nervous, almost reaching a point of anxiety. What I failed to realize, is the deeper the processing and connecting of the information I encoded; the easier the retrieval of all the information I studied would’ve been, when it came time to taking the test.

One night while sitting at the dining room table doing my math homework, I became extremely frustrated. I think I was in the fourth grade and I was just learning how to do double-digit multiplication. For some reason, I just couldn’t grasp the concept of how to carry the numbers and all that other jazz that goes along with it. I tried to follow the samples in the textbook and tried to remember all the methods the teacher had written on the overhead projector earlier that day; but nothing prevailed. My mother, who was a teacher, noticed that I was still sitting at the dining room table and that it was almost time for bed. She saw my impatience and expressions of nerve-racking grief. I explained to her my dilemma with multiplication and that I just can’t comprehend how to do it! She wouldn’t accept my defeat. She knew that I knew my “times tables” so she literally sat down and drew out a map with arrows guiding me through each step to follow for each problem. We sat down and completed every problem on my homework assignment until it was completed. The next day in school, when the teacher asked for volunteers to share their answers from the warm-up assignments on the whiteboard in front of the class, I was able to solve my double digit multiplication problems with ease. As I focused on solving the problem, I was able to retrieve and use the image of the map of arrows my mother had taught me from my memory to guide me in solving the mathematical problem.

All in all, when we use the term deep processing we associate it with paying close attention to an item’s meaning and relating it to something else. Deep processing takes place when we elaborately rehearse (taking the meaning of an object and creating connections between the object and something we know). If my mother, had not made me rehearse my double digit multiplication problems till I was comfortable and taught me the map of arrows to guide me, I would have never had the confidence to stand in front of the entire class and solve the math problem on the whiteboard. Still to this day, I am now able to solve multiplication problems in my head, using the map of arrows my mother taught me. It comes in handy when there is no calculator within reach. This concludes, memory depends on how information is programmed in the mind. The more deeper and intense the processing of information in the mind; the better the retrieval.

Goldstein, B (2011). Cognitive Psychology: Connecting Mind, Research and Everyday Experience, 3rd Edition. Wadsworth Inc.

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