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Lesson plan: explanations of forgetting – retrieval failure

Topic - Memory – Explanations of Forgetting – Retrieval Failure

Paper 1: Introductory topics in psychology: Memory, AS 3.1.2, A-level 4.1.2

The following is a sample lesson plan to help teachers to structure a one hour lesson on one explanation of forgetting (retrieval failure) in the memory topic on Paper 1 for AS and A-level (week 9 year 1 scheme of work). It is designed to be co-teachable in content for AS and A-level students. It is suggested as a guide only and can be amended to suit teachers and their students’ needs.

Learning objectives

Develop a critical appreciation of retrieval as an explanation for forgetting.

Learning outcomes

  • All students should be able to define and explain what is meant by retrieval failure as an explanation for forgetting in LTM.
  • All students should be able to describe context and state dependent forgetting as examples of retrieval failure.
  • All students should be able to distinguish between context and state dependent forgetting in simple examples of retrieval failure.
  • Some students should be able to distinguish between context and state dependent forgetting in more complex examples of retrieval failure.
  • All students should develop a critical appreciation of the research conducted into retrieval failure as an explanation of forgetting by critically analysing the research.
  • All students should be able to use research to evaluate retrieval failure as an explanation for forgetting in LTM.
  • Some students will be able to use a wider range of criteria to evaluate retrieval failure as an explanation for forgetting in LTM with reference to research studies that have investigated context and state dependent forgetting.

Prior knowledge needed

Students will need an overview of the memory process, including the idea of retrieval as remembering. Knowledge of explanations of forgetting suggested by Multi-Store model for LTM is useful eg Interference and retrieval failure. Some research methods knowledge is required to understand the research studies that are being presented eg experimental method and experimental design.

Lesson preparation

  • Handout/sheets/booklet of notes containing the following: - Detailed definition and explanation of retrieval failure as an explanation for forgetting and description of context and state dependent retrieval failure illustrated with examples of each type of retrieval failure.
  • PowerPoint/Whiteboard slides of key features of the explanation including context and state examples.
  • Activity sheet where students must apply their knowledge of context and state dependent forgetting to distinguish between the 2 types of cue. Differentiation by inclusion of distracters, and more complex examples to stretch more able students, and extension task to then to think of other examples that would be content and state dependent forgetting.
  • Word lists/Materials to carry out a demonstration of Tulving and Pearlstone’s 1966 study about context learning.
  • Information sheets/textbooks/details of key studies (including context (Tulving and Pearlstone (1966) study about context -learning material in categories, Baddeley (1975) deep-sea divers). State dependent (Goodwin et al (1969) effects of alcohol on state dependent forgetting) for students to read and discuss as evaluation of the explanation.
  • Overall evaluation sheet with strengths and weaknesses of the explanation to be sorted and elaborated by students in groups.

Activity

Duration

Activity

Group size

Learning outcome

10 minutes

Introduction of retrieval failure illustrated with examples of context and state dependent forgetting (handout and PowerPoint /white board slides).

Whole class

All students should be able to define and explain what is meant by retrieval failure as an explanation for forgetting in LTM.

5 -10 minutes

Students to work in pairs to match up correct examples of context and state dependent forgetting.

EXTENSION – some students to attempt to apply their knowledge to develop new examples of state and context dependent forgetting.

Pair work

All students should be able to describe context and state dependent forgetting as examples of retrieval failure.

Some students should be able to distinguish between context and state dependent forgetting as examples of retrieval failure.

10 minutes

Teacher led demonstration of Tulving and Pearlstone’s 1966 study about context as a cue. Students to participate in a repeated measures design replication of the study. Condition one – students learn list of words and are asked to free recall list. Condition two – students to learn another list and are asked to recall with category headings.

Whole class demonstration

All students should be able to describe a basic repeated measures design to assess the effect of context on recall.

5 minutes

Compare and discuss results in terms of retrieval failure and lack of cue. Students to consider strengths and weaknesses of Tulving and Pearlstone’s study with reference to methodological issues with the study.

Pair work

All students will develop a critical appreciation of the research conducted into retrieval failure as an explanation of forgetting by critically analysing and using the research as evaluation of the explanation.

10 minutes

Students put into small groups and given material on Baddeley (1975) deep-sea divers research and (Goodwin et al, 1969) effects of alcohol study. Students to read and discuss the 2 studies evaluating the methodology used and deciding within the group how to USE the research as evaluation of retrieval failure as an explanation. This will be fed back to the whole class.

Group task (3-4 students)

All students should be able to evaluate retrieval failure as an explanation for forgetting in LTM with reference to research studies that have investigated context and state dependent forgetting.

5 minutes

Overall evaluation sheet of the explanation to be sorted into strengths and weaknesses and elaborated by students in groups.

Group task (3-4 students)

All students will develop a critical appreciation of the research conducted into retrieval failure as an explanation of forgetting by critically analysing and using the research evidence to evaluate the explanation.

5 minutes

Set homework task to students (see below). EXTENSION task set as independent learning differentiated task (see below).

Whole class

 

5 minutes

Plenary = QUIZ to recap explanation and studies covered

Whole class

Consolidation of knowledge and understanding of retrieval failure.

Further work and reading

Plenary

Plenary quiz recapping the key features of the explanation and studies covered in the lesson.

Extension

  • Students to apply their knowledge of retrieval failure to write a letter advising the Head Teachers of schools and colleges where external exams should take place according to the research into context dependent forgetting, including the likely benefits to their students on results of following the advice. Students should justify the advice by reference to research evidence.
  • Independent research to find at least one more research study that investigated the effects of context or state on forgetting (recall) eg Grant et al (1998). Studying experiment (with and without noise) Eich and Metcalfe’s (1989) mood experiment (sad and happy).

Preparation for next lesson

Students should carry out the homework in preparation for research based practicals. These are based on studies covered in this lesson

Homework

Students to critically analyse/evaluate the methodology and design used in the above studies in preparation for next lesson where they will design and carry out a replication of Tulving & Pearlstone’s study of the effect of context on retrieval, using repeated measures design and counterbalancing (as a control).

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