Author Archives: sdejong

Behind Problem Solving

As I thought about what I wanted my April blog post to be about, I thought of problem solving. Problem solving is something that we do everyday whether we know it or not. When I was taking chemistry 111, I had to write up post-lab reports about the experiment we had done that week, which included calculations and if the experiment had worked, etc. It was a big part of our grade, so missing one could lower our grade by a few points. I would always print it out the night before, but of course the one time I tried printing it out while rushing to get ready for practice, which was right before my chem class, the printer stopped working. I was frantic because I could not just not turn it in. I quickly checked to see if I had run out of paper, nope. I checked to see if my computer was set to the right printer, yes. Then, I come to see that I ran out of ink. I quick searched my mind for a way to print out my report. Then I remembered my friend down the hall had a printer. I quickly ran to print out my report just before I had to leave. This is just one example of a problem I had to solve that day. I came across an article by Lumen Learning, Problem Solving, that described two types of ways problems are solved, which is algorithms and heuristics. “Algorithm is a problem-solving formula that provides someone with step-by-step instructions used to achieve a desired outcome.” This may apply to a mathematical problem, using step-by-step instructions from a textbook to figure out the correct answer. One other way that may be more common on a day to day basis is using heuristics. “You can think of these as mental shortcuts that are used to solve problems.” The article explained the different types of heuristics that are used in different types of situations, and the impulses that occur when one of five conditions are met:
-When one is faced with too much information
-When the time to decide is limited
-When the decision to be made is unimportant
-When there is access to very little information to use in making the decision
-When an appropriate heuristic happens to come to mind in the same moment
An example was given that shows when a heuristic would be applied, which really helped me understand how exactly this helps us with problem solving. When trying to accomplish a large task, students tend to break it into smaller tasks so that it doesn’t seem as overwhelming.
The article ended on listing and describing a few ways on how problem solving can practice every day. Solving puzzles, such as sudoku, can improve problem solving abilities, with practice. In this game, you are given a grid with squares inside that may contain a number. To solve the puzzle, you must fill in the empty boxes with single digits and each row must total ten, while only each digit can appear once in each row and column. It takes some time to solve, but it is a great way to practice problem solving.

Are flashbulb memories really that accurate?

As I thought about what to write for my March blog post, I couldn’t help but think to write about flashbulb memory. This topic has always interested me because why do certain memories seem so much more vivid with us than others? What makes them so special to us that we remember every little detail about that specific memory? One of the flashbulb memories that I hear about more than others in when the plane hit the twin tower on 9/11. Now I know I was only a baby at the time, but whenever that subject is brought up to my parents, they seem to act like it had happened yesterday; knowing exactly where they were at the time when they found about what had happened in New York, having to go pick us kids up from daycare, calling our families who at the time lived in New York, etc. I always find it fascinating that they can bring up those memories like it was just yesterday, even though in reality, it really happened over a decade ago. I decided to type into google search ‘flashbulb memory,’ and sure enough, one of the first articles I found was surrounded by the 9/11 attacks. The article talks about certain times in history, such as the Martin Luther assassination and the Kennedy assassination. What makes these so memorable? In 1977, Roger Brown and James Kulik argued that important traumatic events are stored in a complete and vivid way that captures the context, the event, and the emotional reaction to it. The suggestion is that when something serious or emotional happens, there may not be a time in the moment to evaluate what exactly happened, so by retaining the vivid memory, the individual can come back and re-examine the event. When someone has a flashbulb memory, they also seem overly confident that what they remember is exactly what happened. They believe that they could not have possibly misremembered the traumatic event wrong. So, in this article, a study was mentioned by psychologists after traumatic or emotional events. In a 2015 issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, researchers sent out memory surveys immediately after the airplane attacks on 9/11. They sent out follow-up surveys to participants after one, three, and ten years. Everyone seemed to still be very confident as to what happened that day, even though what they said on their survey, did not quite match up with their initial survey. It was said that compared to the survey taken 10 days after 9/11 occurred, there was significant discrepancies. A year after the event, only about 2/3 of what people remembered was correct and the survey that was taken 10 years later, people were still about 60% correct. Although the participants were mostly above average, there was still found to be inconsistencies in their memory. This shows that flashbulb memories are not always correct. A flashbulb memory that I have is when I found out about the passing of a loved one, I would bet my life on the exact moment I found out and what I was doing in that moment. But, it really makes me think if over time, I may be misremembering certain aspects of that day.


As I was thinking of something to write about for my February blog post, I immediately thought to write about how to increase attention span and focus more during lectures and while studying and doing my homework. I have struggled for many years with maintaining focus during activities and daydreaming. It is like my brain is incapable, especially when I am not interested in the topic. I took to the internet to try and find an article that gave good ideas and tips for staying focused while doing school work.
I was reading an interesting journal about ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and thought that the tips that they used for kids/adults who had ADHD would work just as well for students who are having trouble staying focused while doing homework. I started to read and found that doing homework in an area that is secluded and has little to no pictures or posters hanging around the walls around you. “An unorganized room filled with unfinished projects and wall-to-wall displays can be very distracting (Reiber and McLaughlin, 2004).” That made me immediately think of the treehouses in the Simpson library because they are little tiny rooms that are secluded, with little to no distraction. Another good tip to maintaining focus is making a schedule for your day before your day starts and to also print out the lecture notes and bring them to class. Writing out your schedule for the day will help students know what is coming next in their day. This will help keep your attention on what things you should be doing and will also most likely help with time management as well. With students printing their notes before class, this will aid in also knowing what is coming next, and the student will follow along with their professor and even make notes on the lectures notes that had been printed out in advanced.
I liked reading this journal and learning new tips for how to stay focused because I for one am someone who struggles with maintaining my focus during class and while completing my homework. I also know I am not the only one who struggles with this. So I hope it can help someone out in the class. This journal relates to class because we have been taking a look out how peoples attention can be easily directed to a different object or subject while completing and object or even just having a conversation with someone.


The Most Effective Way to Study

There are always a handful of people who have trouble studying for school and could use a few study tips. Whether it comes from time management or not taking useful notes. But one thing that I know every student battles with is cramming information the night before a big test. Students think that cramming for a test the night before will help them remember the information more efficiently the next day while taking the test.

This article highlights many study tips for college students and more efficient study habits. One of the study habits it explained was why cramming for a test is not the right way to go for studying. It explains why cramming is not a good study habit for a test or quiz, but instead a student should study the material for about thirty minutes every day. Studying over a longer period of time is better for learning repeated information, as well as rereading things from past topics. The cognitive principle being applied is memory retention. The article underlines that studying for hours on end the day before a big test is not effective. It overloads the brain and therefore, memory of the topics studied is lost. The brain retains information much more efficiently when studying is done in increments. The brain can have time to understand and fully memorize the material being applied.

This paper was a very good read because I believe most students have a lot of trouble with successful study habits. Students may not know that cramming for a big test the night before is not helpful. While reading this paper, I learned just how important it was to study in increments and not all in one day. The authors of this paper seemed to understand the reasoning behind the research and why studying in increments instead of cramming is more useful to students while memorizing and learning information.

The paper is a good source due to the fact that it gives out helpful tips for students who may need the extra help in time management and bettering their study habits. This topic was very interesting to learn about because many students do not know about this certain study habit. Many students tend to study the night before a test for hours and hours which can cause stress and a lack of sleep, which will make them preform worse on the test. If only more students knew about putting aside thirty minutes a day, their grades could increase due to a positive change in their study practices. The research behind this study tip I believe is credible because authors are psychology professors from Carleton College and Washington University in St. Louis. It was also published by the Association for Psychology Sciences which is a credible source. The information these authors talked about seemed to be relevant and true. Cramming for a test or quiz is too much information to take on, and most of the information studied will be gone the next day.