Life-Span Maintenance of Knowledge  book cover
1st Edition

Life-Span Maintenance of Knowledge

ISBN 9781848726505
Published May 28, 2013 by Psychology Press
328 Pages 63 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This volume describes how well we maintain the knowledge we acquire throughout life. Research traditionally focuses on memory for events that are retained over short time periods that can be accommodated in experiments. This book, by contrast, uniquely describes the evolution of methods suitable for investigating memory of complex knowledge acquired over several years and retained during the entire life-span. The methods substitute statistical for experimental controls, and the investigations involve several hundred participants whose memory is tested up to 50 years after they acquired the knowledge in question.

The book covers educational content, such as mathematics and foreign languages; knowledge acquired incidentally, such as the streets and buildings of the cities in which we live; and knowledge acquired through the media. Previously unpublished research on age-related access to knowledge is included.

The analyses are based on the accessibility/availability ratio, a metric presented for the first time. This metric allows comparisons of the portion of available knowledge that can be recalled as a function of age, education and other individual differences, and as a function of the domain of knowledge in question. The ratio can be used to evaluate methods of instruction and methods of studying. It can also be used to evaluate memory development and to diagnose memory pathology.

The volume will be of interest to researchers in human memory, developmental psychologists, gerontologists in academic and applied settings, and educators.

Table of Contents

1. A Historical Perspective. 2. The Ohio Wesleyan Memory Research Program. 3. Acquisition and Maintenance of Knowledge. 4. Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Investigations of Overlearning. 5. Fluctuations of Access to Marginal Knowledge. 6. Initial Investigations of Age-related Access to Knowledge. 7. Larger Scale Investigations of Age-Related Access to Naturalistically Acquired Knowledge. 8. Distortions of Knowledge. 9. Summing Up.

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Harry P. Bahrick received his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology in 1950 from the Ohio State University. He was a Fulbright lecturer to Germany; a National Science Foundation Fellow, University of California, Berkeley; and an Endowed Chair and Research Professor, Ohio Wesleyan University. His many honors include the Welch Meritorious Teaching Award, Ohio Wesleyan University; the Distinguished Teaching Career Award, the American Psychological Foundation; President, Division of Experimental Psychology of the American Psychological
Association; Outstanding Alumnus Award, the Ohio State University Department of Psychology; and the Distinguished Professional Achievement Award, the Ohio State University Alumni Association.

Lynda K. Hall received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology in 1986 from the University of Notre Dame. She was the Associate Director of Memory Research at Ohio Wesleyan University from 1985 to 1989, and she has been a member of the OWU faculty since 1989.  She is currently a professor in and the chair of the Psychology Department. In addition, she was a recipient of the Sherman Dodge Shankland Award for the Encouragement of Teachers, Ohio Wesleyan University.

Melinda K. Baker received her Ph.D. in Applied Cognitive Aging Psychology (2005) and a Certificate of Gerontology (1998) from the University of Akron. She has worked as a Research Associate for Creative Action LLC and as the Memory Lab Project Administrator for Ohio Wesleyan University. Currently, she is the Program
Administrator for the Alta Golden Memory Center in San Diego, California.


"This excellent book sets out the studies of real-world knowledge that Harry Bahrick and his collaborators have carried out over the past 35 years. The work is virtually unique in combining naturalistic observation with rigorous experimental methods, and the result is a fascinating collection of findings and ideas on how we learn, remember, and misremember information that we once knew well. It is essential reading for all students of learning and memory." -Fergus I.M. Craik, Ph.D., Rotman Research Institute, Toronto


"Harry Bahrick has played a unique and important role in the study of forgetting. For over 40 years he has systematically explored the long term retention of knowledge from a wide range of domains  over the life span. His work is practically important because such retention is of central importance to the whole purpose of education, and of great theoretical significance because it tests the generality of the much more constrained methods that necessarily dominate research in this area. In bringing together this important body of work, I confidently predict that this will become a classic of the memory literature." - Alan Baddeley, Ph.D., The University of York, UK