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In this report I have investigated Miller’s chunking theory and whether that increases the amount of information that can be stored in the short term memory. The aim of this experiment is to investigate whether chunking does improve the amount of memory the short term memory can hold. The hypothesis is in a test of short term memory recall involving 10 participants who had to remember and recall 5 chunked mobile phone numbers and 5 un-chunked mobile phone numbers. Participants who used the chunking method will score higher than participants who didn’t use the chunking method.
My research method is an experiment. I was able to accept my hypothesis and as a result I can say that Ebbinghaus was in fact wrong in saying that the short term memory can only hold six or seven pieces of information because with the chunking method it can hold more than that. So Miller was right the short term memory can hold 7+/-2 pieces of information. Generally people find information easier to remember if it is in smaller chunks rather than great streams of information. Background information Erika Cox wrote that memory has three main processes.
Registration is where the sense organs identify information and enter it into the memory system. Storage is the process by which information is kept in the memory and finally retrieval is the process by which information in memory can be recovered. Atkinson and Shiffrin (1968,1971) developed the multi-store memory model. This is made up of the sensory memory, short term memory and long term memory. Firstly information is detected by the senses and entered into the sensory memory and can be kept here if rehearsed.
If we attend to this information it is then entered into the short term memory which According to Miller can hold 7 +/- 2 items and can hold the information unrehearsed for up to 30 seconds. If that information is then rehearsed it can then be entered into the long term memory. If rehearsal does not occur than the information is forgotten Long before Atkinson and Shiffrin developed the multi-store memory modal Ebbinghaus (1885) maintained that the short term memory is limited to six or seven pieces of information. Miller (1956) disagreed with this. He developed a chunking method.
Miller having reviewed earlier studies of the short term memory said that it could hold 7 +/- 2 pieces of information. So Miller said that it can hold between five and nine pieces of information. The short term memory can hold a certain number of slots in which items can be stored. Miller suggested that the amount of information held in each slot could be increased by chunking the information. For example if you had this set of letters – QPALZMWOSKXNEID – Miller would say that 15 letters is too much for the 7 +/- 2 slots of short term memory to hold.
But if we chunk the letters into smaller groups – QPA LZM WOS KXN EID – it gives five chunks of information which is within the range of the short term memory. In summary Atkinson and Shiffrin (1968,1971) introduced the idea of the multi-store memory modal with its three main processes. Much earlier than this Ebbinghaus discovered that the short term memory could hold six or seven pieces of information. Miller said the short term memory could hold 7 +/- 2 pieces of information and took this further to say that the short term memory could hold more items of information if that information had been chunked.
So Miller disagreed with Ebbinghaus’s earlier idea that the short term memory could only hold six or seven pieces of information. The aim of this experiment is to see whether chunking does improve the amount of information the short term memory can hold. In this investigation I am supporting Miller’s theory of the chunking method. The hypothesis is that participants will recall more information using the chunking method than without the chunking method.
The hypothesis is in a test of short term memory recall involving 10 participants who had to remember and recall 5 chunked mobile phone numbers and 5 un-chunked mobile phone numbers. Participants who used the chunking method will score higher than participants who didn’t use the chunking method. The null hypothesis is in a test of short term memory recall involving 10 participants who had to remember and recall 5 chunked mobile phone numbers and 5 un-chunked mobile phone numbers. Participants who didn’t use the chunking method will score higher than participants who did use the chunking method.
Method Design The nature of my research is an experiment. The independent variable is whether the mobile numbers are chunked or un chunked. Chunked means that the mobile numbers will be read out in smaller groups rather than all eleven numbers at once. So I will be reading the numbers out in 1 group of 5 and 2 groups of 3. There will be slight pauses in between each group of numbers. Un-chunked means that the numbers will simply be read out without any breaks in between each number. The dependant variable is how much of the mobile number is recalled in the right order.
The extraneous variable is that when I read the numbers out to the participants my voice might change pitch between each participant. I might not be able to keep exactly the same amount of time between each number as I read them. I will control this by recording my voice speaking all 10 chunked and un chunked numbers and then playing this recording back to each participant. They will all hear the same recording which means there will be no change in pitch, tone of voice and time in between each number. Participants
The target population is 16-18 year old students studying A levels. The sampling method I will be using is opportunity sampling which means that the sample is selected on the basis of who is available at the time of testing and willing to take part. I am using this sampling method because it is the quickest and easiest way to take a sample. I will simply ask people who are available to do my experiment. I will use this sampling method because it is convenient, low cost and fits my situation as I am doing a school coursework experiment not an official experiment.