Do you find yourself rehearsing a lot?

Published 5:33 am Wednesday, May 21, 2003

By Staff
Sonya Rogers
education COLUMNIST
Do you find yourself rehearsing numbers and names over and over again? Is it hard to remember one event from the next?
Research suggests there is no long-term retention of cognitive concepts without rehearsal.
Rehearsal refers to the learner's reprocessing of new information in an attempt to determine sense and meaning.
Therefore, information has value when it is remembered exactly as presented. For example, children find meaning in learning the letters and sequence of the alphabet, spelling, poetry, telephone numbers, notes and lyrics of a song, and their multiplication tables. This is known as rote rehearsal. Sense and meaning are established quickly, and the likelihood of long-term retention is high. Most adults can recall poems and telephone numbers that they learned years ago. However, more complex concepts require the learner to make connections and to form associations of relationships in order to establish sense and meaning. The information may then need to be rehearsed several times as new links are discovered. This is referred to as elaborative rehearsal.
Basically, this is why it is important for teachers to use class conjectures in conjunction with kinesthetic activities to assist students during the long-term learning process. Visual models are also essential for instruction of new concepts. In regards to rehearsal being a necessary component of learning, teachers should consider the following when planning lessons:
Stress can actually block the learning process or retention of important information. Therefore, by forgetting the trivial, we may actually leave room for the more important and meaningful experiences that shape who we are and aid in establishing our individuality.
Children need to understand the reason for rehearsal and retention. They should be reminded by parents and teachers to continuously practice rehearsal strategies until these techniques become a part of their regular routine for learning. Moreover, they must understand the degree of meaning associated with new learning and that it is much more significant than the time allotted.
It is also vital for students to verbalize their rehearsal to peers or teachers while they are learning new material.
Rehearsal is a critical component in the transference of information from working memory to long-term storage. This method of learning is not a new one. The Greek scholars of 400 BC knew its value when they wrote:
Repeat again what you hear; for by often hearing and saying the same things, what you have learned comes complete into your memory.

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