American Academy McAllister Distributed Practice & Self Reference Effect Study Plan

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2.6 Make a study plan 


The purpose of this assignment is to help you find ways to use what you have learned about memory to improve your study strategies for this class. 


  1. From section 8.4 (Links to an external site.) in the textbook, read the section titled Ways to Enhance Memory,  and watch the study skills video in section 2.5 of this unit.
  2. From the eight techniques listed in the textbook and/or the study tips given in the video, choose two techniques that you would like to use in studying for a test.  For each technique, give a brief description of the technique and explain why this technique works, relating it to at least one concept that you learned in this unit. 
  3. Next, explain in detail how you would use it for this class.  Be specific.  In order to get full credit, you need to give enough detail to show me that you have a realistic, implementable plan.  For example, you will not get full credit for saying “I will use distributed practice when I study.”  You need to explain what distributed practice is and why it works.  You also need to outline when you will study, and for how long:  “I can study for 20 minutes after Psychology class, for 20 minutes before dinner everyday, and will do three 30 minute review sessions per day on Saturdays and Sundays.”
  4. Finally, apply one of the ideas about motivation that you learned in Unit 1 to your plan by making a suggestion on how to stay motivated to stick to your study plan.  Make sure to state which theory or theories of motivation you are applying and why.


2.5 Ways to enhance memory (Read)Applying what you have learned(Don’t worry, this page is short and sweet)Section 8.4 (Links to an external site.) in your textbook takes what you have learned and directly applies it to studying.  The video below does the same.  Take some time to think about how you can apply these ideas to your own studying.  Your graded assignment for this unit will be to make a study plan that incorporates these ideas.;

1.6 Theories of Motivation (Read)-3Why are we studying motivation first?Motivation is defined as the wants or needs that direct behavior toward a goal.  In other words, motivation is what gets us going and keeps us moving towards our goals.  At this point in the semester, you are probably fairly motivated to do what you need to do to succeed in this class.  Of course you are.  It’s early in the course.  But as the semester goes on, you might get to a point where it gets harder to motivate.  Staying on schedule in a online class can be hard.  Or you might feel frustrated or discouraged by a low grade or a difficult assignment.  My hope is that by learning about the various theories of motivation, you will learn a few tricks about how to keep yourself motivated in this course, as well as in your other endeavors.  Let’s do this!Important conceptsSection 10.1  (Links to an external site.)in your textbook outlines major theories of motivation.  Read the section, making sure that you understand the following key ideas:Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic motivationOverjustification effectInstinctDrive reductionHomeostasisHabitOptimal ArousalYerkes-Dodson LawCognitive DissonanceInsufficient JustificationMaslow’s Hierarchy of NeedsWhat motivates you?Consider this scenario:  You have a test coming up in a few days.  You know you need to get some studying done, but you really aren’t feeling it at the moment.  What could you do to motivate yourself to study?  For many people, the first idea that comes to mind is to think of some sort of incentive or reward that you could give yourself for studying.  You might remind yourself of the benefits of a good GPA and a college education.  Or, you might opt for a more immediate reward, like a piece of candy when you finish reading a page, or a 15 minute video game break after you study for a certain amount of time.Incentive Theory of MotivationThe idea of rewards creating motivation exemplifies the Incentive Theory of Motivation, which states that one source of motivation involves some sort of external stimulus that pulls us towards a goal.  Don’t get me wrong, rewards are great motivators!  However, there is a lot more to motivation than just rewards.  Furthermore, there are times when rewards can actually decrease, rather than increase motivation!  Let’s explore some other sources of motivation to see whether or not you can use them to keep you motivated.  Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic MotivationThere are two types of motivation.  Extrinsic motivation occurs when an outside factor (money, praise, reward) is what gets us going.  Studying for a good grade, or exercising to lose weight are examples of extrinsic motivation.  In contrast, intrinsic motivation occurs when we do something because of something from within.  Studying because it feels good to master a new topic, or exercising because it feels satisfying are examples of intrinsic motivation.  If you are thinking that intrinsic motivation is a pretty good thing, I’d agree with you!  When you are intrinsically motivated, you are much more likely to keep going with a task, even when things get tough.  Cognition affects motivationLet’s look more closely at your motivation for studying.  Are  you intrinsically motivated to study, or do you study for extrinsic reasons?  Do you study because you enjoy learning new things, and being challenged and mentally stimulated?  Or do you study because you want a good grade? Or to keep from failing a class?  Or to make your parents stop nagging you?  Here are some examples of how cognition affect motivation:The Overjustification Effect occurs when we focus on extrinsic motivations and discount intrinsic motivations.  (Watch the video and see of  you can make a connection to your motivations for studying).Expectancies also affect motivation.   Expectancies are your beliefs about the meaning of a task, and how you feel about doing the task.  Do you expect to succeed?  Do you expect it to be meaningful?  Here are some examples of expectancies that can influence motivation:    Self-efficacy:  our expectations about how successful we will be influence our motivationNeed for achievement:  The degree to which we feel a need to achieve and accomplish tasks affects motivationAutonomy, mastery, purpose (Pink, 2011):  Drive TheoryInner drives can also influence motivation.  Homeostasis refers to our body’s tendency to stay in balance.  For example, we sweat in order to keep our body temperature within a normal range.  Drive reduction theory suggests that when we are not in a state of homeostasis, this creates a drive state, a state of discomfort that we would like to reduce.  For example, we eat when we are hungry, or drink when thirsty.  Over time these behaviors become habits, which cause us to eat and drink even when we may not be hungry or thirsty.  Optimal ArousalOptimal arousal refers to the level of arousal (Links to an external site.) at which a person performs best—not to stressed, but not too bored either.The Arousal Theory of Motivation suggests that one source of motivation is the desire to be at the optimal level of arousal. When we are not at the optimal level of arousal we choose activities that help us reach the optimal level.  For example, when bored, we try to do something exciting, when stressed, we try to find calming activities.Think about your study habits.  Do you avoid studying because it doesn’t put you in an optimal arousal state?  If so, how can you change your study routine?  Yerkes-Dodson LawDifferent people have different optimal levels of arousal.  Some people thrive under pressure, others do not.  Note that for most people, a moderate level (in the middle) seems best.  The type of activity also affects the optimal level of arousal.  Yerkes-Dodson Law predicts that optimal arousal is higher for tasks that are easy or well-learned, and lower for tasks that are difficult or unfamiliar.Think about test anxiety.  Have you ever felt that your level of anxiety got in the way of your performance on a test?  Yerkes-Dodson Law suggests that if you can get to the point where the material is well-learned, you can make that anxious arousal work for you rather than against you.Cognitive Dissonance TheoryCognitive dissonance is the psychological tension that occurs when we hold inconsistent cognitions.  Think of the way that you feel when you feel guilty, or embarrassed, or hypocritical.  Dissonance is an important motivational force.Dissonance creates a state of  unpleasant arousal.People are strongly motivated to reduce dissonance because they don’t want to be in the unpleasant arousal state.People will change their own behaviors or thoughts in order to do this.Insufficient JustificationHere’s a second way that dissonance can affect motivation.   It happens when we feel dissonance because there seems to be only weak motivation for a behavior.  We then reduce dissonance (unpleasant arousal) by creating a stronger motivation for the behavior.  Here’s a video example:Maslow’s Hierarchy of NeedsThe main idea of the Hierarchy of Needs is that motivation is influenced by the type of universal human needs that a person is experiencing. For example, a person at the bottom of the hierarchy who is concerned with physical survival is probably not going to be thinking about things like inner fulfillment or having a larger circle of friends. There is some controversy about the hierarchy of needs.  Remember how in page 1.2 of this module I made the point that intuition is unreliable?  Maslow’s Hierarchy is a theory that appeals to our intuition but doesn’t have a lot of empirical evidence to support it.  Here’s an article about this (Links to an external site.).  That being said, Maslow’s ideas serve as a useful starting point for thinking about human nature and human behavior.  We’ll learn more about his ideas later in the course when we are looking at various types of therapy.PreviousNext

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