Spotlight Blog 1: Memory

Several sites have their own studying tips to share with anyone looking to retain more learned information. The first site I found offers advice to college students on effective study habits. The first tip boldly states “good notes = good grades,” which I am immediately skeptical of, since note-taking isn’t effective for every student, nor does it always secure material in your memory, according to what we’ve learned in Chapter 8. By simply writing information down, you’re repeating information rather than effectively processing it and interacting with it. A few better options, according to the mini-lecture on memory and studying, would be to at least organize the info, and better yet draw connections between key terms or how the information relates to you. By visualizing a personal application of the information, we associate greater meaning with it, thus remembering it better. One good tip from this article is to not cram, which definitely is backed up by what is known about memory. Instead, the article suggests studying material a little bit each day. This tip completely aligns with the proven successful method of distributed or spaced practice, in which there is a longer period of time for learned information to solidify itself into memory.

As for tips for parents to help their kids study, most of the tips involve a lot of interference into the students’ learning. An article from, a site with information about learning disabilities, suggests setting a schedule for your child so that they do not wait until the last minute before an assessment and become overwhelmed. This aligns with the distributed practice method, but also is suggested to be combined with a reward system in which time studying is met with praise and positivity, along with “love and affection.” The best way I can describe this method is that it is assisted meaning-focused studying; instead of searching for the meaning of the information yourself, you are given rewards at the end of studying so that you associate positive feelings with it and pursue it further. This method may work for getting kids to study in the first place, but will not be effective long-term, since a reward will not always be available. In addition, you may feel over time that you deserve a greater reward, and demand something on the other side of studying for the session to be constructive at all. A better method would be to help your kids establish long-term goals to focus on rather than instant gratification.

An article from actually offers some great ideas for high school students trying to study better. One tip that especially sticks out is to “hang new information on an old ‘hook,'” as in, relate new info to what you already know. This is an effective course of action as it falls within the method of elaboration, which according to the mini-lecture includes using devices such as mnemonics to help expand on new information. The article even suggests using songs in the same way as an acronym or mnemonic. It also suggests studying in a group, which is another method supported by psychology. If you study in a group after developing your own background with the information, you are able to view information from different perspectives and likely find a better way of remembering it later.




Week 2: First Impression Research Study (Option 1)

I selected Option 1 for Week 2’s post, since I liked the idea of developing my own study as opposed to commenting on another.

Research Question: How does the color of a paper exam affect the test-taker’s performance?

Hypothesis: I believe that cool-tone colors of paper like blue or green will result in better test performance. Knowing that red and orange are more stimulating colors that evoke emotion, I think that blue or green paper would lower the stress levels about the test for the students taking the exam, whereas a warm color would intensify any nervous feelings.

Procedure: For this study, I would have a group of students of the same year and rounded GPA listen to a simple lecture and take an exam, some with a different color paper than another. I would likely recruit participants easiest by offering them food. While the students finish the test, I will mark down their finishing time as well for further data.

Difficulties: Some difficult things to control here will be the differences in learning styles in all the participants, regardless of their GPA. There could be learning disabilities to account for as well, and the mental condition of each student at the time. Some students may be tired from other classes, or may be thinking about upcoming classes as well, so it would be best to perform the test after final exams.

Bonus Post: Miguel

Miguel has been struggling with his coursework lately. He has felt very tired in recent weeks and has found it difficult to focus on his studies. Even though he is always tired, he has trouble falling asleep at night, is irritable during the day, and picks fights with his roommates. He is a bit of a perfectionist and gets mad at himself when he makes even tiny mistakes. It’s gotten to the point where he doubts his ability to do anything right.

From a psychodynamic standpoint, Miguel appears to be very stressed. He also seems to find difficulty managing his frustration. There is a chance he has self-esteem issues, given his self-doubt. Overall, he seems to direct a great deal of anger inward.

Judging his behavior, it appears that Miguel has a difficult time holding back his feelings. Some of his frustrations become clear in the way he begins conflicts with his roommates. He cannot fall asleep because his mind never seems to feel at rest. His lack of sleep is likely a large factor in what’s making him so irritable, and in turn may be what is causing him to pick fights.

From a humanistic approach, Miguel may just be having a difficult time trying to succeed in school. He may be starting fights with his roommates because there are significant issues between them. With his studies, he may be directing his anger inwards because he feels he is not doing enough. He feels the need to succeed due to his own interests and possibly the importance of what others think. He wants to be moving forwards and is struggling with his hangup.

A cognitive approach would tell you that he may have a learning disability involving his focus. He also finds difficulty with reading other people’s emotions, and reacts strongly, starting conflicts with his roommates. As for his perfectionism, he treats most situations as if they are completely within his control, not understanding the other factors at play. He is unable to consider an objective approach to his issues, so instead he processes it as a deep personal flaw.

From neuroscience standpoint, there may be a disruption in his brain chemistry. Due to his lack of sleep, a chemical may be being produced too much or too little. Due to this pattern, his sleep patterns may be thrown off by that much consistent bad sleep. The disruption also hurts his ability to focus and process information and emotions.

There may also be a cultural factor at play. Miguel could come from an immigrant family or live in an area where he feels like a minority. People like his roommates could be treating him differently or unfairly, making him feel distant and emotionally upset. Due to this constant discomfort, he cannot sleep at night due to feeling threatened or depressed about his isolation. He also finds it difficult to learn in the same environment as the majority around him.



My name is Scott Kennedy and I am a first-year student at Elizabethtown College. I chose to take General Psychology because I’ve always wanted to take psychology courses at the college level, and perhaps pursue a minor in it. I have not taken a psychology class before, since my high school’s psych class never fit into my schedule. However, I’ve always enjoyed reading books, articles, and studies on psychology in my own free time. When I think of psychology I think of research, quite honestly. As much as I find interest in stories of rare psychological cases and more recent trends involving mental health issues in today’s society, I always remember that at the heart of psychology is thorough research.

The three topics in the course schedule that I find most interesting are improving memory, coping with stress, and mechanics of sleep, since they hold useful and applicable information for me as a busy college student. Three less interesting topics to me would be scientific method, research design, and the power of experiments, since I’m much more interesting in the results and principles of psychological studies than doing the details of doing the research itself. That being said, I do understand the value and importance of effective research to any field, and I hope I gain more exposure to it during the class. My absolute first of many questions about psychology that I’d like to answer by the end of the class is how can I use psychology to make myself more productive and effective in learning and working?