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Poster C42

Can students effectively apply encoding techniques to support learning in person and online?

Poster Session C - Sunday, April 14, 2024, 5:00 – 7:00 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Sophia Tran1 (, Myra Fernandes1; 1University of Waterloo

Past work has demonstrated that drawing a sketch, compared to other strategies during encoding, improves memory of to-be-remembered information (Wammes, et al., 2016). A large body of evidence has demonstrated that similar brain regions related to motor and perceptual processing are active when observing or performing a representative action, suggesting that mirror neurons in the brain can contribute to learning (Rizzolatti & Craighero, 2004). Here we examined whether an observer’s memory for words is improved when watching someone else draw or write to-be-remembered information. Depending on group, participants (n=45 in each) either performed the encoding tasks themselves, observed another person doing the tasks, or watched a video of the tasks being performed in an online learning environment. All participants were shown target words sequentially, along with prompts (intermixed, within-subject) to either silently read, write, or draw a picture of the target. On a later free recall test, participants were given 2-minutes to type all the words they remembered from the encoding phase. For both performers and observers, drawing benefited recall the most. Results suggest that encoding by conceptualizing a drawing is sufficient and beneficial to memory regardless of whether it is performed or observed, in line with past research suggesting that mirror neuron activation can support learning. Importantly, the magnitude of the drawing benefit was greatest when this encoding task was performed rather than observed or watched in a video, suggesting an additional role of personal relevance in enhancing memory. While drawing is always beneficial, performing it maximizes its effectiveness.

Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Semantic


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April 13–16  |  2024