Introduction:This presentation will examine individual differences in learning and memory. It will explore the influences and challenges presented by the existence of relationships, genetics, age, gender, personality, learning and all the implications that are associated with those factors.
Analysis of the Relationship Between Genetics & Learning: Individuals may learn what they live, however, studies show over the past two decades that genetics plays a large role in both the capacity to learn and learning disabilities that may occur overtime (Kovas & Plomin, 2007). Genetic influences such as behavior indirectly affect learning because manners in which an individual responds vary from person to person including how one reacts emotionally and the level of intensity that is felt (Terry, 2009). An individual’s ability to retain the information once learned initiates in the nervous system regions involved in learning and remembering are also genetic factors that affect our learning abilities (Terry, 2009).
Analysis of the Relationship Between Genetics & Learning: Twin studies comparing identical and fraternal twins consistently demonstrate a substantial genetic influence on individual differences in learning abilities such as reading and mathematics (Kovas & Plomin, 2007). Cognitive skills such as spatial ability and memory were investigated in a recent twins study, evaluating episodic and semantic memories (Volk, McDermott, Roediger, & Todd, 2006). The episodic memory tests included free recall vocabulary assessments and a test to monitor semantic memory and although individuals were measured independently, these studies showed a large genetic influence (Terry, 2009).
Analysis of the Implications of Age: Age has a great impact on learning and memory. Since age changes across the lifespan, so does how one learns and remembers. Prenatal learning occurs while the fetus is still in the womb. Research has shown that exposure to some type of experience and then tests conducted after birth can determine whether or not learning has occurred among the fetus (Terry, 2009). Classical conditioning and instrumental conditioning has also been found to occur among prenatal learning. According to Terry (2009), research on pregnant women utilized music and training in deep relaxation for the mothers. After continuous combinations of music and relaxation, the activeness levels of the fetuses decreased, thus, causing a calming effect. After birth, infants develop rapidly. They begin to be more aware of their surroundings and are classically conditioned through numerous responses. Responses of classical conditioning include: blinking, turning their heads, and sucking responses (Terry, 2009). Infants are also able to recognize their mothers through sense of smell, sight, and hearing. Infants are constantly learning while adapting to their new environment. In regards to classical conditioning, it is most advanced at this stage.
Analysis of the Implications of Age: As adults, we recall events from our childhood. However, how far back can we remember? Research has concluded that childhood memories are earliest remembered at the age of three. Sigmund Freud had labeled the struggle to recall early childhood memories as childhood amnesia (Terry, 2009). There are many explanations as to adults cannot remember events from their childhood. One theory suggests that the hippocampus has yet to mature, thus, unable to form episodic memories. Other theories derive from “differences in decoding, memory span, existing knowledge, use of learning strategies, and in metamemory” (Terry 2009, p. 369).Encoding differences occur between younger and older children. As children develop, they learn to become more verbal and expressive. Children are able to verbally express their memories as opposed to infants that cannot. In regards to capacity, short term memory and working memory is decreased among younger children. Retaining information among younger children is less as well. Working memory and short term memory increases upon entering adulthood. Another theory is knowledge. Researchers believe that children could remember information better than adults if the children were more knowledgeable about the material. According to Terry (2009), the use of strategies can ultimately increase retention among children. Examples of these strategies are: rehearsal of the material, the use of mental visuals, and the organization of the material for later use. The use of strategies is more predominant among older children due to the knowledge that is acquired over that transition from infancy into childhood.Meta-memory differs between younger and older children as well. Meta-memory refers to the “knowledge about memory and is important in deciding what types of learning tasks will be difficult or when learning strategies should be used” (Terry 2009, p. 370).
The Implications of Age:Throughout the lifespan a human beings’ learning expands due to time and knowledge. However, as adults begin to increase in age; their memories decrease. The capacity of memory declines in aging adults due to the working memory. Another hypothesis in regards to aging and memory is metamemory. Due to years out of the educational setting, aging adults cannot recall previous strategies used to retain information. Another aspect is the general stereotype that seems to fall on aging adults…that age causes memory to diminish. There are also noncognitive sources of decline. These sources involve factors such as the adult’s physical, emotional, and mental health. Thus, impairments in the overall health of the adult can lead to cognitive illnesses. Overall, depending on the age of an individual depends on their capability of learning and memory. The differences in age show the differences in learning and memory.
Analysis of the Implications of Gender: The variations between the memory of men and women is suggested to be more related to “differences in knowledge or experience, interest levels, self-handicapping, or gender expectancies or stereotypes about how one should perform (Terry, 2009)”. Children are nurtured in a manner that is sex related such as the idea that girls should play with dolls and boys with trucks, for example. “Knowledge about gender is acquired so rapidly and universally that individual differences in the amount or adequacy of gender knowledge rarely are observed (Bauer, 1993).”“Schemata are…’naïve theories that guide information processing by structuring experiences, regulating behavior, and providing bases for making inferences and interpretations’(Bauer, 1993).” In regard to gender schemata, the provision is made for the organization of gender specific information such as behavior, clothes, and other general information that is connected differently to males and/or females. (Bauer, 1993) From the age of 18-20 months, knowledge surrounding gender differences is obvious from toy selections to different adult roles in men and women, and “by 2 to 3 years they [children] have begun to form stereotypes about gender-related activities…(Bauer, 1993)”. “Finally, by the age of 4, children use the social dictum that ‘pink is for girls and blue is for boys’ to determine whether gender-neutral characters are ‘girls’ or ‘boys’ (Bauer, 1993).” What children are taught surrounding gender and more specifically, their own gender, seems to offer direction as to how information is processed with differentiations between genders. These differentiations offer specific attention to information that is acquired and processed which in turn can show differences in memory capabilities with topics that are more gender specific. (Bauer, 1993)
Analysis of the Implications of Gender:The sex-role expectations of individuals is considered to increase attention and focus in specific areas that are considered gender related. For example, the expected role of women as mothers is expected to increase a female’s memory on milestones in their children’s lives. This consideration insinuates that due to sex-role expectancies, individuals are going to be more in tuned and pay more attention to information that surrounds their expected roles based on their gender. This should, in turn, produce better memory recall of information that is related to the sex-role expectancies. (Terry, 2009)“Gender differences in memory could be attributed to differential familiarity with the to-be-learned material (Terry, 2009).” If an individual is being tested on memory recall through pictures or lists of words, the pictures or lists that are more gender related should be more easily recalled by that specific gender. For example, boys are more likely to remember a list of cars or sports related items than that of girls because the items to be remembered should be more familiar to boys. (Terry, 2009)The expectation or stereotype about how someone behaves based on gender could possibly increase their memory ability in connection with gender related topics. In a study wherein “children had to remember to perform some action 30 minutes later. Boys remembered better to check a battery charger … and girls remembered better to check the oven (Terry, 2009).” Further, what people believe they are supposed to be better at remembering may also effect their memory performance. If women are expected to be better at remembering certain information, simply because they are women, then this expectation could increase women’s ability to remember that type of information. (Terry, 2009)Some inherited biological differences may have an effect on memory differences between men and women as well. Hormone levels, such as estrogen in women and testosterone in men, may affect memory ability. The increase of these hormones has not shown to increase memory ability, but a decrease in these hormones has shown a decrease in memory ability. In essence, if a woman is suffering from a decrease in estrogen level due to menstrual cycle or increased age, then memory ability has shown some decrease well.When the hormone levels raise (either naturally or through supplementation) the memory ability is at a more normal level for that individual. (Terry, 2009)
Analysis of Implications of Personality to Learning:According to Terry (2009), personality can be defined a s a series of traits within an individual which influence how he or she thinks, interacts and responds to their environment. An individual’s personality can be an influential factor towards how one approaches learning, as part of learning includes interacting within the environment, retaining information, and being able to access and retrieve information when it is needed (Miculincer, 1997).One model that is used to conceptualize personality is the Five-Factor personality model. According to this model, personality can be categorized across five dimensions of traits, or factors. The factors include Extraversion, introversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness. Depending on how strongly a particular factor manifests within an individual, learning will be influenced accordingly. As an example, individuals who have strong traits of openness will be receptive to new information and integrating the information within their overall experience and perception. Individuals who have strong traits of neuroticism might experience high levels of anxiety when experiencing new information, or might have high levels of depression if they are not able to understand the information they are receiving (McCrae & John, 1992).Another factor of personality influencing learning is how one approaches seeking and receiving information. If an individual is not motivated to seek out information, their learning could manifest as “not achieving potential” or could have poor academic performance.Another factor could be how an individual prefers learning, either within a group or alone. Finally, how one perceives the value of information can be a factor. If the individual possesses higher levels of intellectual curiosity, they might be proactive within their quest for learning whereas an individual who does not see the value of being proactive might wait for information to be provided (Palmer, 1991).
Analysis of Implications of Personality to Learning:One personality trait that has received extensive study is extraversion/introversion. An individual who rates at the extraverted end of the extraverted/introverted scale would be an active learner. He or she would welcome group or collaborative learning or team projects, as well as participates in an active fashion within class discussions or team meetings (Robinson, 2004).At the other end of the scale, an introverted learner prefers working on projects by themselves. They do not enjoy group or team projects, and would rather learn at their own pace. Introverted learners are usually shy or reserved, which could pose a dilemma if an instructor mistakes their introverted personality for lack of attention or unwillingness to participate (Robinson, 2004). An additional personality trait that influences learning is an individual’s anxiety response. Anxiety can negatively influence learning if an individual has poor coping skills to deal with learning situations that trigger an anxiety response. Anxiety can reduce one’s ability to recall or retain information, and if the anxious feelings become overwhelming, the individual’s ability to perform complex tasks or process information could become compromised (Hawley & Grissom, 2010).A final element of personality that could influence learning is psycho-pathlogy. If an individual is suffering from an anxiety disorder such as PTSD, then the individual’s ability to retain information could be compromised if the individual is dealing with an anxiety response (Terry, 2009). Other disorders such as mood disorders could contribute to compromised learning ability as the individual might have difficulty focusing on the task at hand.Additional disorders like schizophrenia or Alzheimers which impact the brain’s ability to process and retrieve information could negatively influence an individual’s ability to learn (Terry, 2009).
Conclusion:Learning Team A has examined individual differences in learning and memory and it has explored the influences and challenges presented by the existence of relationships, genetics, age, gender, personality, learning and all the implications that are associated with those factors.
References:Bauer, P. J. (1993). Memory for gender-consistent and gender-inconsistent event sequences by twenty-five-month-old children. Child Development, 64(1), 285-297. doi:10.1111/1467-8624.ep9309015122Cervone, D. & Pervin, L. A. (2010). Personality: Theory and research (11th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Hawley, W.R.; Grissom, E.M. (2010). The relationships between trait anxiety; place recognition memory; and learning strategy. Behavioral Brain Research. 216(2). McCrae, R & John, O. (1992). "An introduction to the Five-Factor Model and its applications." Journal of Personality, (60)2, Miculincer, M. (1997). "Adult attachment style and information processing: individual differences in curiosity and cognitive closure." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, (72)5,
References:Palmer, J. (1991). "Scientists and information: II. Personal factors in information behaviour." Journal of Documentation, (47)3, Robinson, M.D. (2004). Personality as performance categorization tendencies and their correlates. Current Directions in Psychological Science. 13(3).Terry, W. Scott (2009). Learning & Memory: Basic Principles, Processes, and Procedures, Fourth Edition. Boston, MA: Pearson Higher Education
Learning And Memory Presentation
Individual Differences in Learning and Memory<br />
Level of Intensity</li></li></ul><li>The Relationship Between Genetics & Learning<br /><ul><li> Twin Studies show substantial genetic influences</li></li></ul><li>Analysis of the Implications of Age<br /><ul><li>Prenatal Learning
Learning</li></li></ul><li>References<br />Bauer, P. J. (1993). Memory for gender-consistent and gender-inconsistent <br /> event sequences by twenty-five-month-old children. Child<br /> Development, 64(1), 285-297. doi:10.1111/1467-8624.ep9309015122<br />Cervone, D. & Pervin, L. A. (2010). Personality: Theory and research (11th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.<br />Hawley, W.R.; Grissom, E.M. (2010). The relationships between trait anxiety; place recognition memory; and learning strategy. Behavioral Brain Research. 216(2). <br />McCrae, R & John, O. (1992). "An introduction to the Five-Factor Model and its applications." Journal of Personality, (60)2, <br />Miculincer, M. (1997). "Adult attachment style and information processing: individual differences in curiosity and cognitive closure." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, (72)<br />
References<br />Palmer, J. (1991). "Scientists and information: II. Personal factors in information behaviour." Journal of Documentation, (47)3, <br />Robinson, M.D. (2004). Personality as performance categorization tendencies and their correlates. Current Directions in Psychological Science. 13(3).<br />Terry, W. Scott (2009). Learning & Memory: Basic Principles, Processes, and<br /> Procedures, Fourth Edition. Boston, MA: Pearson Higher Education <br /> <br />