Cell Phone Nation

By Angela Watson

The modern debate of how much cell phones distract us from everyday responsibilities can be settled by cognitive psychology. Researchers found that the average person only studies for approximately six minutes before moving on to a new task, which was primarily linked to cell phone and media usage (1). The prefrontal cortex is designed to only focus on a single item, leaving us to “swap focus” between items at a rapid pace when we multitask (2).

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Only three steps and you’re master of elaboration!

By Hikaru Sanouchi

Elaboration: The process of developing or presenting a theory, policy, or system in further detail. (from dictionary.com)

The word elaboration is from the late Latin word, elaborationem. Labor played an important role in the word elaboration, as we can physically see the word “labor” in this word. When we imagine the word labor, we would imagine labor work, which is physically hard work people do, for instance yard work, construction, and such. Currently, elaboration means to work out a problem in more detail and depth.

That is it for elaborating on the word elaboration. Here, I’m going talk about using elaboration in psychology.  Elaboration is the process of incorporating new information with an old idea. According to Yang (1995), a goal of elaboration is to, “make learning more meaningful by forming a relationship between the new, unfamiliar material and the new the older, already learned information” (Yang. 1995. P,3). Creating a connection between your new knowledge and old knowledge to understand the information in more depth is the goal (1).

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Music While Studying: Does It Motivate Or Distract?

By Marissa Corder

Can music help you study more efficiently? Unfortunately, this question is not easy to answer, and research has yielded contradictory evidence. The effect of music on cognitive performance depends on a multitude of factors including tempos of songs, types of cognitive tasks being performed (such as reading comprehension or solving algebra problems), and prior listening experiences. The arousal and mood hypothesis proposes that music’s influence on cognitive performance is a result of physiological responses (1). This hypothesis was developed to explain the “Mozart effect” – the popular misconception that listening to Mozart makes you smarter; that is, after Mozart-listening sessions, participants scored higher on spatial abilities compared to silent conditions or listening to instructions on relaxation (2). Later research found supporting evidence for the arousal and mood hypothesis and thus, “busted” the erroneous conclusion of a causal relationship between music and intelligence.

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Make It About YOU: Learning with the Self-Reference Effect

By Marissa Wurster & Daniel Ilagan

You know how you’re mom told you while you were growing up to stop being selfish and stop making things all about you? Well we’re here to tell you to forget that! In terms of improving memory and encoding items, relating things back to yourself can actually be really helpful! Students spend hours every single day trying to comprehend new material, but often times they waste that time because they fail to relate the material to themselves. Evaluating incoming information relative to the contents of one’s self schema can lead to enhanced elaboration and organization of the newly learned material (1).

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Why You Can’t Trust Your Brain or Anyone Around You

By Robert Dragani and Hannah Kaczala

No college student is a stranger to the stress of exams. But sometimes we get lucky, and after hours of cramming, you might find a question on an exam that you know you studied; you specifically remember it from the study session. You confidently answer and feel accomplished in your study skills. A few weeks later, when your professor finally hands back your graded exam, you are flabbergasted that the question you thought you nailed was marked incorrect. You crack open your textbook, because you’re sure you had it right. The book takes your teacher’s side and you wonder where in your learning you got mixed up. Does this sound familiar to you? If so, you might have fallen victim to what psychologists call the Misinformation Effect.  

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So You Think You Can Study Correctly

By Jordan Feger and Cassandra Gherardini

So you think you know how to study. You think that because high school was such a breeze that you must have stellar study habits and practices, right? You must have it all figured out already, right?

That’s funny.

Welcome to college.

You see, college is hard. No matter where you go or what major you have, college is worlds away from any sort of high school education. All those study methods and habits you thought worked so well don’t exactly compute with the oodles of homework, tests, and term projects piled on your plate.
So you get to college and it feels like your brain is going to explode with all of the tasks you have to complete in addition to actually attending and paying attention in class. It feels like your brain is full; you can’t possibly fit any more information in there.

Well, here’s the thing, that feeling that your brain is full, you have this concept called working memory to thank for that.

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Go Test Yourself – Serial Position and Testing Effect

By Jeileen Belen and Veronica Rzepniewski

College is a difficult time for people; you’re adjusting to a new environment, taking difficult classes, and surrounding yourself with people that you don’t know yet. Though it may seem stressful, college is a great time as long as you find your balance.

If I could go back in time, I would have listened to older college students who told me that the techniques used for studying in high school is not an effective way to study in college. To all of the first-year college students, the best way to study for a test is to ACTUALLY STUDY; studying the day before or the day of is a sure way to fail a college test. There are expectations of college students to have a fun and active social life while maintaining a good academic standing, and these expectations can be overwhelming. It is important to enjoy your college years, but it is more important to understand your boundaries and find a good social and academic balance. Sources say that having good study skills improves academic self-efficacy and achievement motivation which are the two constructs that best influence GPA (1). College is a whole new ball park, so developing great study habits from the bat will help you succeed. Continue reading “Go Test Yourself – Serial Position and Testing Effect”

Stress Well to Test Well? How Applying State Dependent Learning Can Lead to Better Test Results

By Nina Relias and Madeline Rockhold

Ever heard of the expressions “dress well to test well” or “I only study well when I am under a lot of stress”?  Most college students have their own theories or myths about their study habits which may or may not be accurate. We will be addressing these myths by exploring the nature of state dependent memory and learning.  Psychologists have determined that outside factors influence how one studies.  By definition, state dependent learning is a type of learning that is associated with a specific state.  People have better memory recall when information is retrieved in the same state that it was learned in. Especially when referring to mood. This occurs because human’s brains are comprised of a network of interconnected units or nodes, which activate other surrounding emotional nodes. These nodes are connected to certain events and stimuli in one’s environment that are associated with a specific emotion.  These emotions are spread to other association nodes that then are able to interpret stored information along the pathway of activation with more accessibility (1).  In short, someone will have better memory retrieval if that person’s mood or physical state is the same at both encoding and retrieval.

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