PSYC 155: Human learning Forgetting Paper
The goal of the Forgetting Paper is to give you the opportunity to reflect on the causes
and consequences of your forgetting and to think of ways to reduce this forgetting.
Specifically, you will select TWO specific examples of forgetting from your Forgetting
Diaries that you hope to reduce in the future. Your task is to (a) analyze these types of
forgetting, and (b) design a solution for reducing them. This is the perfect opportunity for
you to apply knowledge learned in class to your everyday experiences!
I highly recommend taking a look at the sample papers provided on Canvas – these will
give you a great idea of what it takes to earn an A.
This should not be a long paper – including a cover page, I am looking for 6-8 pages
total. Use double spacing with a normal font size (12 point) and standard margin size (1
inch). I do not require APA format for this paper, but nonetheless your paper should
be well-organized according to the outline below. PLEASE proofread your paper before
submitting – it should not contain spelling or grammatical errors, both of which will
negatively affect your grade. Also keep in mind that this paper is more formal than your
diaries, so avoid using slang or other informal language, and avoid using contractions
(“can’t”) and instead spell words out (“cannot”).
I. Cover page. Include the title of your paper, your name, the course title, and the date.
II. Introduction (1 paragraph). Write a brief introduction in which you reflect on the
general topic of forgetting, illustrating how common it is in daily life, how diverse the
types of forgetting can be, and the costs/consequences associated with forgetting.
III. Broad description of your own forgetting (1 paragraph). Briefly describe your personal
experiences with forgetting (note that this should be broad – you’ll get into your specific
examples in the next section). You can focus on your note-taking days and/or instances
of forgetting from other periods in your life as well. Feel free to reflect on any interesting
observations that you made about your own forgetting, particularly amidst the COVID-19
crisis. For example: things that surprised you (e.g., that you forgot more than you
anticipated or that costs were higher than you anticipated), or interesting patterns you
observed about your forgetting. I recommend looking at the reflection you wrote as part
of the Forgetting Profile.
IV. Specific forgetting examples (2 paragraphs total). Choose TWO specific examples of
forgetting from your diaries. They can be from the same category of forgetting or from
different categories. For each example, briefly describe what you forgot (you’ll get into
why you forgot in the next section), as well as the COSTS associated with forgetting.
Explain why you chose to highlight these two examples in your paper – e.g., because
those types of forgetting happen so often, were so costly, etc.
V. Mechanisms of forgetting (one page for each example). This is an extremely
important part of the paper! Apply the following instructions to each of your two
PSYC 155: Human learning Forgetting Paper
• Describe the sequence of events leading up to the forgetting incident. Start by
describing how the forgotten intention/location/information was originally
encoded. Were encoding conditions optimal? If not, what wasn’t ideal about how
you attempted to encode?
• Next, think about the circumstances under which retrieval should have occurred.
Were retrieval conditions optimal? If not, what wasn’t ideal about how you
attempted to retrieve?
• General advice:
o Be sure to use terminology mentioned in class so that I know which
specific encoding or retrieval mechanisms/factors you’re referring to.
o Use as many mechanisms as necessary to explain your examples. That
said, you don’t need to discuss each and every mechanism covered in
class – only those that are most clearly relevant to your example. In a
nutshell: what were the root causes of your forgetting?
• Repeat this analysis for your second example of forgetting.
• Finally, note whether there are any similarities between your two forgetting
examples, or how they are different.
VI. Solutions for reducing your forgetting (1 page for each example). This is an
extremely important part of the paper! For each example described above, design a
strategy that will help reduce that type of forgetting, and describe how your strategy
reduces the root cause(s) of your forgetting. Follow the instructions below for each
example that you provided above.
• First, choose a strategy. Your strategy can take many different forms—it could
involve a mnemonic technique, adopting a new habit, or even a change in your
physical environment that would facilitate remembering. It’s entirely up to you to
decide what will be most effective. That said, your strategy must meet the
o Strategies must work by eliminating/reducing/compensating for the
root cause(s) of your forgetting. E.g., if your root cause is a lack of
attention during encoding, your strategy should directly address attention
during encoding. If your root cause relates to a lack of retrieval cues, your
strategy should involve improving retrieval cues. The most common
mistake I see is choosing solutions that don’t relate to the root problem
(e.g., root problem is a lack of attention at encoding, but strategy relates
to creating more retrieval cues).
o Strategies must be specific. If your root cause of forgetting is a lack of
attention at encoding, you cannot simply say: “I will pay more attention.”
Instead, you must specify HOW you’ll change your approach or habit or
environment in a way that will force you to pay attention.
o Strategies must be realistic and practical, such that you’ll actually use
o Be sure to describe how your strategy reduces the original cause(s) of
forgetting. You must be very clear about linking your strategy to the root
cause(s) identified above!
• Finally, describe how successful you think your strategy will be. Will it be hard to
implement? What problems or limitations might make your strategy less
effective? If successful, what consequences/costs will it eliminate?
PSYC 155: Human learning Forgetting Paper
Note: Points will be deducted in each section for typos, grammatical errors, and poor
______ Introduction (0.5 pts)
______ General description of your forgetting (1 pts)
______ Description of forgetting examples (1.5 pts)
______ Mechanisms of forgetting (3.5 pts)
______ Strategies for reducing forgetting (3.5 pts)
______ TOTAL (10 pts possible)
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