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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: Maths
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I am going to carry out an experiment to find out if people can remember words more easily if they are randomly picked out or if they are in categories and the reasons behind this.

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I am going to carry out an experiment to find out if people can remember words more easily if they are randomly picked out or if they are in categories and the reasons behind this.

Background Research

Long term Memory (LTM) stores information so that retrieving information will be easier. If we don’t practice and rehearse things stored in our short term memory (STM) then information will shortly go away before it gets to the LTM. It is clear that the meaning makes it much easier to remember information. A study done by Bousfield supports this idea. Bousfield (1953) gave the participants 60 items to learn randomly. There were 15 names of people, 15 names of animal, 15 professions and 15 vegetables.  They were then asked to recall the words in any order they liked. As a result most participants tended to remember words in clusters belonging to the same category. This implies that there is semantic organization in the LTM.

Bower however (1969), implied that there are organizations in hierarchies.  The study he conducted on how structured information can improve the recall. He had half the participants (group 1) seeing a lists of words organised into a hierarchical and another half seeing a random list (group2). When they were told to recall the words given, group 1 recalled 65% of the words and group two only recalled 19% implying that the LTM stores information by organization and categorization.

To make recall much more efficient organizing a list of words will make it easier for storing and improve the recall.

One way of assessing STM capacity is by measuring its immediate digit span.

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 - For the same experiment to be carried out for each candidate so it isn’t unfair on anyone.

-The words aren’t to be told to candidates until the experiment starts but they are to be basic words which they will know nothing too long to remember

-To try as much as possible to keep it in a quiet environment to relax the mood and allow them to concentrate on the experiment as much as they can and for the outcome to be as effective as possible.

Words used in my experiment for people to look at for a certain amount of time and recall them to me with as much time as they need in order to get all ten words


































Door        `                        






Tally of results

1)Girl’s names











From these results I can say that the mean is closer to nine than eight but the mode is however ten. This is probably because of the range of numbers averaging to nine instead of ten. This shows that 4/5 of the people got at least eight out of ten words right showing that short term memory is very good.

2)Boy’s names











From these results I can say that the mean is more a less eight and theresults arequite continuous with a wider range of results than the first test. This is rather unusual as you would expect similar or better results to the first test as it more a less the same test but using boys names.

...read more.


If I was to carry out the experiment again however it might be an idea to write out the words in recall to see if this helps the results table.

Also some of the experiment is held in a girl’s school so it’s likely that some people will study psychology and know of the experiments especially the girls aged 16-18 as it is not an option at GCSE level. This could make their results higher than other participants. So if I did the experiment again a different environment of young people may be more reliable than this. This is another reason why the age difference should vary to see if there is a difference in older teenagers to young or whether their results are similar and maybe a chart for psychology students could be carried out to see whether studying psychology makes them more aware and use better strategies for remembering.

Application to everyday life

This study is useful in application to everyday life because we use short term memory all the time whether it is just remembering a list of words, trying to describe an event we have just seen to a friend, remembering which way the sign said to go or what the speed limit says on a certain road when driving in a car. So therefore without short term memory we could be very lost and may end up in tricky situations without it therefore the quicker we rehearse items and push them into storage for long term memory the better.

...read more.

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