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A recent study by Connor Diemand-Yauman and his colleagues at Princeton (2010) showed that presenting text in an unfamiliar font,, such as , which is relatively hard to read, led to better memory for text contents compared to a more familiar font, such as Arial (this website is mostly formatted in Verdana).
The more effort you expend, the better you'll remember -- provided that it's not just rote rehearsal.
Cognitive psychologists commonly distinguish among various types of knowledge stored in long-term memory.
There is, first, a distinction between declarative and procedural knowledge.
Procedural knowledge is knowledge of skills and rules, how to do things, which can be represented in "if-then" conditional statements known as productions.
If we want to know 'How students Learn", it is perhaps good to begin at the beginning, with a definition of learning -- something that psychologists have been studying since the late 19th century, when Pavlov rang his first bell and Thorndike put his first cat in a puzzle box.
While under the yoke of Watsonian and Skinnerian behaviorism, psychologists defined learning as "a relatively permanent change in behavior that occurs as a result of experience".
Instead, what's needed is what is known as elaborative rehearsal, connecting up what we're trying to learn with what we already know.
I haven't talked with my old travel agent, in Madison, Wisconsin, for more than 20 years, but I still know his phone number -- 256-4444, because when he gave it to me he pointed out that 256 = 4 raised to the 4th power. Examples like this give us the elaboration principle, that memory is best when we process an item deeply, connecting it with our rich fund of pre-existing knowledge.