Recognition versus recall

Filling the pail


At the start of Dr. Catherine Scott’s researchED Melbourne talk, she asked us all to draw a bicycle. I was sat next to John Sweller and neither of us had paper so we couldn’t join in, but the point was well made: all of us can recognise a bicycle but few of us can reproduce what it looks like.

Scott developed a case that will be familiar to many readers. She displayed a diagram of a conventional model of the brain similar to the one that Dan Willingham uses in ‘Why Don’t Students Like School‘ except that she added a couple of arrows to highlight the process of forgetting. In this model, the brain takes in information from the environment that it processes in working memory. This is then exchanged with long term memory. The working memory is severely limited but the long-term memory is effectively limitless [In…

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