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Enhancing School Success with Mnemonic Strategies MARGO A. MASTROPIERI AND THOMAS E. SCRUCGGS

Many students with disabilities and those at risk for educational failure exhibit problems with remembering materials covered in school. Suggestions for helping these students improve memory for school content are described in this article. In particular, mnemonic instruction is described and examples are provided of how it can be used to increase school learning and memory of students with learning difficulties. A few years ago, we revisited an inner-city middle school where-about a year before we had conducted an investigation on the effectiveness of mnemonic techniques in helping students with mild cognitive disabilities remember U.S. states and capitals. As we entered the classroom, Crystal, a student classified as mildly mentally handicapped, recognized one of our graduate students immediately. “Hay! I remember you!” she exclaimed enthusiastically. “You were here last year-you taught us states and capitals! I remember, go ahead, ask me one!” “Well, uh,” replied our colleague, taken slightly by surprise, “How about … Florida? What’s the capital of Florida?” “That’s too easy!” she said, smiling. “Here it is: Florida, the keyword is flower-the flower is on a television set, and television is the keyword for Tallahassee!” In this scenario, a student classified as mentally retarded effectively remembered information she had been taught 1 year previously. Even more impressive was the fact that she had not reviewed or rehearsed this information with any teacher since the last time we had seen her! As startling as this scenario is, it underscores something we have been witnessing for many years: the incredible power of mnemonic strategies to increase dramatically the amount of information students remember, even students with learning problems. In this article, we describe the need for effective memory strategies for school learning. Next, we provide a brief description of what mnemonic strategies are and what they are not. Following that, we describe how you can use

these powerful learning tools to enhance the school success of your own students. THE NEED FOR MNEMONIC STRATEGIES According to the Sixteenth Annual Report to Congress on the Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (U.S. Department of Education, I 994), 71.2 % of all students now spend all or a substantial part of their school day in general education classrooms. As many as 78.9% of students with learning disabilities spend all or most of their educational time in general education classrooms. On the secondary level, students with disabilities are included in content area classrooms, such as English, science, and social studies classes. Largely, ability to succeed in these classrooms determines their level of success in school. What factors determine whether a student will succeed in secondary content-area classrooms? Putnam (1992b) surveyed 7th- and 10th-grade teachers in Kansas, INTERVENTION IN SCHOOL AND CLINIC VOL. 33, No. 4, MARCH 1996 (PP. 201-208) 201 Indiana, and Florida, and reported that an average of nearly half of a student’s report card grades depended on test performance. Clearly, such factors as attendance, punctuality, participation, and homework completion are also important. However, teachers made it clear that test scores were the single most important factor in report card grades. Teachers gave an average of 11 of these tests over the course of a single 9-week grading period. Clearly, students’ academic survival is tied very closely with performance on academic tests. In addition to the number of tests teachers give, Putnam (1992a) also examined the types of questions teachers asked on tests. He found that the overwhelming majority of test questions students were asked required facn1al recall: The majority of questions on tests administered by main­ stream secondary classroom teachers required the student to recall a specific foct­2 S.3 per test. A sample question that asked for a specific fact was “Who discovered America?” Other possible responses, such as conclusion, sequence, opinion, discrimination, compare and contrast, purpose, correct an example, and summary, appeared about one per test. (p. 131) Thus it can be seen that memory for factual information is absolutely essential for success in school, particularly at the secondary level. Unfortunately, it is also true that students with learning disabilities and other learning problems have been consistently shown to have particular difficulties remembering academic content (e.g., Cooney & Swanson, 1987). Our work in the area of mnemonic (memory-enhancing) strategies has been devoted to finding ways of increasing the amount of content-area information students are able to remember. This article provides information on the utility, and effectiveness, of mnemonic strategies in enhancing memory for school learning. WHAT MNEMONIC STRATEGIES ARE A1nemonic strategies are systematic procedures for enhancing memory. Their particular use is in developing better ways to take in (encode) information so that it will be much easier to remember (retrieve). Although there are retrieval strategies that can be employed to attempt to

retrieve information that has been forgotten, research has demonstrated that the way we encode information when we first study facilitates memory better. The particular task in developing mnemonic strategies is to find a way to relate new information to information students already have locked in long-term memory. If we can make a firm enough connection, the memory will last a very long time. For example, Crystal had learned the capital of Florida so well because the mnemonic strategy had carefully linked it to things she was very familiar with. Because Florida sounds like flower (the keyword), it was easy to teach her to make an automatic connection between Florida and flower: What’s the keyword for Florida? Flower, good! And, what state is flower the keyword for? Good, Florida! It was also easy to teach her to establish a firm association between Tallahassee and television because television was very familiar to Crystal and the two words, again, sound very similar: What’s the keyword for Tallahassee? Television, good! And, what capital is television the keyword for? Good, Tallahassee! Having linked the two words (Florida, Tallahassee) to concrete, familiar words that sound similar (flower, television), all that remains is to link the two familiar words together. And although memory experts Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas have suggested that these words must be associated “in some ridiculous way” (1974, p. 2 3), in fact all that is necessary is that the two keywords be pictured in some meaningful interaction. In the Florida instance, a picture had been created and displayed on an overhead projector of a flower sitting on a television set, as shown in Figure I. Although recalling that Tallahassee is the capital of Florida may be difficult for a student with learning problems, remembering a picture of a flower on a television set was much simpler, and- if the keywords had been learned-contained the same information. For this rea- son, we have found mnemonic strategies constructed according to these procedures to be extraordinarily effective (Mastropieri, Scruggs, Bakken, & Brigham, 1992).

Figure 1. Mnemonic representation of Tallahassee, capital of Florida. (Copyright I 993 by M.A. Mastropieri and TE. Scruggs.) 202 INTERVENTION IN SCHOOL AND CLINIC WHAT MNEMONIC STRATEGIES ARE NOT It might be helpful, at this point, to also mention briefly what mnemonic strategies are not. Mnemonic strategies do not represent a “philosophy” of education. We do not use, or recommend the use of, mnemonic strategies because they arc compatible with someone’s particular philosophy or because they are a part of some- one’s theory about what education should be. We recommend mnemonic strategies for only one reason: Over and over again, they have been proven to be extremely effective in helping people remember things (Bulgren, Schumaker, & Deshler, 1994; Mastropieri & Scruggs, 1989). It is also true that mnemonic strategies are not an overall teaching method or curricular approach. The focus of mnemonic strategies is so specific that they are intended to be used to enhance the recall of the components of any lesson for which memory is needed. We have found, for example, that mnemonic strategies can be ·used to enhance science learning when the curriculum involves a textbook/lecture format (Scruggs & Mastropicri, 1992) or when the curriculum involves a hands-on, inquiry learning format (Mastropicri, Scruggs, & Chung, 1997). Even though these approaches to science learning are very different (Mastropieri & Scruggs, 1994), mnemonic strategies can still be incorporated for the elements that require recall. It is also important to consider that mnemonic strategies are memory strategies, and not comprehension strategies. Students who are trained mnemonically also perform better on comprehension tests of that content (e.g., Mastropieri, Scruggs, & Fulk, 1990; Scruggs, Mastropicri, McLoone, Levin, & Morrison, 1987), but that is generally because they remember

more information that can be applied on comprehension tests. Nevertheless, when comprehension enhancement is called for, it is important to consider using specific comprehension strategies, such as content elaboration, prior knowledge activation, manipulation, coaching and questioning, or prediction and verification (e.g., Mastropieri & Scruggs, 1997; Scruggs, Mastropieri, Sullivan, & Hesser, 1993). Nevertheless, mnemonic strategies do not inhibit com- prehension, as suggested by some (e.g., Kilpatrick, 1985), and, more importantly, there arc many instances in school of students who have achieved adequate com- prehension of a concept, but who have forgotten the facts associated with it. For example, it is completely possible to comprehend the nature of states and capitals while being unable to retrieve the capital of Florida. For another example, it is altogether possible to comprehend the concepts of a cell having a nucleus and consuming other organisms while being unable to retrieve the related verbal label (prokaryotic heterotroph). These are the areas where mnemonic strategies can help. Finally, it should be emphasized that mnemonic strategies do not represent an educational panacea. There are many things that students must do to succeed in school, and remembering content information is only one part of the entire picture. However, when there is academic content to be remembered, mnemonic strategies may be an important instructional component. In the next section, we discuss some general procedures for improving memory, followed by a description of how to create specific mnemonic strategies. GENERAL TECHNIQUES FOR IMPROVING MEMORY Mnemonic strategies as described in this article arc not the only way of improving memory in students who exhibit difficulty remembering things. It is important that you consider all possible methods for improving memory and not assume that mnemonic strategies are your only option. In other publications (Mastropieri & Scruggs, l 993; Mastropieri & Scruggs, in press), we have described more general methods for improving memory. These include the following:

1. INCREASE AITENTION. Students will not remember something that they did not pay attention to in the first place. Be sure your students’ memory problems are not really attention problems. Use strategies for enhancing attention, such as intensifying instruction, teaching enthusiastically, using more visual aids and activities, and reinforcing attending.

2. PROMOTE EXTERNAL MEMORY. Many things that need to be remembered can be

written down, a practice known as “external memory.” Practices such as keeping an assignment notebook and maintaining a student calendar can be helpful in remembering to do things. Unfortunately, external memory is usually of little use (ethically, anyway) on tests.

3. ENHANCE MEANINGFULNFSS. Find ways to relate the content being discussed to the

student’s prior knowledge. Draw parallels to the students’ own lives. Bring in concrete, meaningful examples for students to explore so the content becomes more a part of their experience.

4. USE PICTURES. Pictures can provide a substantial memory advantage. Use pictures on

the chalkboard or on the overhead projector. Bring in photographs or other illustrations. Show concrete images on video- tape, when appropriate. If pictures are simply unavailable, ask students to create images, or “pictures in their heads.”

VOL. 33. No. 4. MARCH 1998 203

5. MINIMIZE INTERFERENCE. Avoid digressions and emphasize only the critical features of a new topic. Make sure all examples relate directly to the content being covered.

6. PROMOTE ACTIVE REASONING. Students re- member content better when they

experience it for themselves (Scruggs, Mastropieri, Bakken, & Brigham, 1993). For example, rather than lecturing the class on the effect of weak acid (such as vinegar) on calcite, allow students to place calcite in a glass of vinegar and see for themselves.

7. PROMOTE ACTIVE REASONING. Students remember better if they actively think

through new information, rather than simply repeating it. For example, rather than simply telling students that penguins carry their eggs on the tops of their feet, ask students why it makes sense that penguins would carry their eggs on the tops of their feet.

8. INCREASE THE AMOUNT OF PRACTICE. Students remember information better if

they have practice using it more frequently. Use lots of review in your teaching; do not simply finish one topic and then never mention it again. Remind the class, and have students practice previous information frequently.

All these strategies can be used to improve memory, and all should be considered. Unfortunately, none of these strategies specifically targets recall of information contained in new or unfamiliar words, and this is the aspect of memory where students most often fail. For example, in the Scruggs, Mastropieri, Bakken, and Brig- ham (1993) investigation, students who engaged in active manipulation remembered more information about electricity and rocks and minerals than students who studied from textbooks. However, neither condition improved recall of critical vocabulary or terminology, the area where mnemonic strategies are most effective. In the following section, we describe several different types of mnemonic strategies that can be used to improve students’ memory. SPECIFIC MNEMONIC TECHNIQUES The Keyword Method The keyword method has already been described for helping students remember states and capitals. However, the keyword method is extremely versatile and has a variety of helpful applications. One possibility is in teaching new vocabulary words. For example, to help students remember that barrister is another word for lawyer, first create a keyword for the unfamiliar word, banister. Remember, a keyword is a word that sounds like the new word and is easily pictured. A good keyword for barrister, then, is bear. Then, you create a picture of the keyword and the definition doing something together. It is important that these two things actually interact and are not simply presented in the same picture. Therefore, a picture of a bear and a lawyer in one picture is not a good mnemonic, because the elements are not interacting. A better picture would be a bear who is acting as a lawyer in a courtroom, for example, pleading his client’s innocence. We have

created pictures and shown them on overhead projectors, but you could show them in other ways as well. When you practice this strategy, be certain students understand all parts of it: Class, barrister is another word for lawye1: To remember what a barrister is, first think of the keyword for barrister: bear. Whats the keyword for barrister? [bear] Good, the keyword for barrister is bear, and barrister means lawyer. Now [displays overhead] look at this pic­ ture of a bear acting like a lawyer. The bear is the keyword for. .? [barrister/ Barrister, good. So remember this picture of a bear acting like a lawyer. When you hear the word barrister, you first think of the keyword…? [Bear] Good, and remember, what is the bear doing in the picture? /being a lawyer}. Right, being a lawyer. So what does barrister mean? [lawyer] Lawyer, good. The keyword method can also be used for more specialized vocabulary such as ranidae, the scientific term for common frogs. A good keyword for ranidae could be rain, and you could show a picture of frogs sitting in the rain. Practice the strategy as in the barrister example. When you question individual students, ask them to give the answer and then describe how they remembered. You should get an answer something like: Ranidae is the word for common frogs. I remembered because the keyword is rain and it was raining on the frogs. If you practice the strategy carefully and frequently, students should remember this information very well. At early stages of learning, you might find some students give the answer rain when you ask what ranid(le means. In these cases, you simply remind the student, No, rain is the keyword it just helps us remember the answer. Now, think in the picture, what is it raining on? [frogs] Right, frogs. So what does ranidae mean? [common frogs]. Correct, common frogs. Mnemonics can also be used in acquiring foreign language vocabulary. A list of some Italian vocabulary words (from Mastropieri & Scruggs, 1991, p. 24) and corresponding mnemonic strategies are given in Table l. Before you read, cover up the keywords and strategies and see if you can come up with your own. Keywords have also been used to improve recall of map locations. For example, students with learning dis- abilities were much more successful in locating Revolutionary War battle locations on a map when they 204 INTERVENTION IN SCHOOL AND CLINIC Table 1. Sample Italian Vocabulary Words and Corresponding Mnemonic Strategies Word & meaning Keyword Strategy meta (apple) mail an apple in a mailbox capre (goat) cop a goat dressed like a

cop Iago (lake) log a log in a lake carta (letter) cart a cart with a letter in


Word & meaning Keyword Strategy fonda (bag) phone a phone in a bag

were mnemonically encoded (e.g., a picture of a tiger, keyword for Fort Ticonderoga) than when representational pictures were used. When asked for the location of Fort Ticonderoga, students proved much more able to identify where on the map the tiger had been than they were to identify the location of a more traditional illustration. Further, if the tiger was shown tending a cannon, students were more likely to remember that at Fort Ticonderoga, cannons were captured that were helpful in the American war effort (Brigham, Scruggs, & Mastropieri, 1995). The Pegword Method Pegwords can be used when numbered or ordered information needs to be remembered. Pegwords are rhyming words for numbers and include the following: One is bun, six is sticks, two is shoe, seven is heaven, three is tree, eight is gate, four is door, nine is vine, five is hive, ten is hen.

Pegwords are substituted for the number to be remembered and associated with the other information. For instance, to remember that insects have six legs whereas spiders have eight legs, create a picture of insects on sticks (see Figure 2) and another picture of a spider on a gate. To remember Newton’s first law of motion (objects at rest tend to remain at rest unless acted on by another force), create a picture of a bun (pegword for one) resting. To remember that a garden rake is an example of a third-class lever, create a picture of a rake leaning against a tree (pegword for three, or third). Pegwords can also be combined with keywords. To teach that crocoite is a mineral that is number 2 on the Mohs hardness scale, create a picture of crocodiles (key- word for crocoite) wearing shoes (pegword for 2). To remember that the mineral wolframite is hardness num- ber 4, black in color, and used in making filaments for lightbulbs, create a picture of a black wolf (keyword for wolframite), looking in a door (pegword for 4), and turn- ing on a lightbulb. Research has shown that elaborate strategies such as this are very effective, and that color, appropriately encoded, can also be easily remembered (Scruggs, Mastropieri, Levin, & Gaffney, 1985). That is, a picture of a black wolf is much more likely to be remembered than a picture of wolframite colored black. Pegwords can also be extended beyond the number 10 (11 is lever, 12 is elf, etc.). For instance, to remember that the 19th amendment of the U.S. Constitution guar- anteed women the right to vote, create a picture of a woman dressed as a knight (19 = knighting) riding to a voting booth. To remember that James K. Polk was the 11th American president, create a picture of a polka dotted (keyword for Polk) lever (pegword for 11) as shown in Figure 3 (Mastropieri, Scruggs, & Whedon,1997). INSECTS 6 (sticks) legs

Figure 2. Mnemonic representation of insects having six legs. (Copyright 1993 by M.A. Mastropieri and TE. Scruggs.)

Figure 3. Mnemonic representation of Polk as the 11th U.S. president. (Copyright 1993 by M.A. Mastropieri and TE. Scruggs.) VOL. 33. No. 4. MARCH 1998 205 Pegwords can also be extended beyond the number 19, by using, for example, twenty is twinty (twins), thirty is thirsty, forty is party, and fifty is “gifty,” or gift-wrapped. For example, to remember the math fact, 7 x 8 = 56, create a picture and practice the pegword phrase, “Heaven’s (7) gate (8) holds gifty sticks” (pegword for 56). To remember that Taft was the 27th president, create a picture of a taffy (keyword for Taft), being pulled between twin heavens (pegword for 27).

Letter Strategies Letter strategies, which involve using letter prompts to remember lists of things, arc the most familiar to students. Most former students remember using the acronym HOMES to remember the names of the Great Lakes and FACE to remember the notes represented in the spaces of the treble clef, from bottom to top. Except for the FACE strategy, however, most acronyms assume that a name of something will be remembered when the first letter is retrieved. However, this may not always be true. For example, if a student is unfamiliar with Lake Ontario, remembering simply that the first letter is O is insufficient to prompt recall. The names of the individual lakes must be practiced until they have become familiar. Acronyms are most helpful when the first letters of a list can be used to create an entire word; however, sometimes modifications can be made. For instance, consider the acronym FARM-B, which represents the five classes of vertebrate animals: fish, amphibian, reptile, mammal, and bird, as shown in Figure 4. The B for bird does not really fit, but it can be added to FARM and practiced until it becomes automatic. In other cases, appropriate words cannot be easily con- structed from the first letters of the words to be remembered. For example, if you wished to remember the names of the planets in their order from the sun, the letters would be M-V-E-M-J- S-U-N-P, from which a word cannot be made. In these cases, an acrostic can be created, in which the first letters are reconstructed to represent the words in a sentence. In this case, the sentence could be “My very educated mother just sent us nine pizzas” (Mastropieri & Scruggs, 1994, p. 271). Again, the names of the planets must be sufficiently familiar so that students can retrieve a planet name, given only the first letter. Also, students should be sufficiently familiar with the solar system to know that the first M stands for Mercury, and not Mars. For another example, to remember the classification taxonomy of living things, remember the sentence, “King Philip’s class ordered a family of gentle spaniels.” This sentence helps prompt kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species, in order.

Figure 4. Mnemonic representation of the vertebrates: fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds. (Note: From A Practical Guide for Teaching Science to Students with Special Needs in Inclusive Settings [p. 158}, by M. A. Mastropieri and T E. Scruggs, 1991, Austin, TX: PRO-ED. Reprinted with per- 111frsion.)

TRAINING INDEPENDENT STRATEGY USE Several research studies have described the effects of training students with memory problems how to use mnemonic strategies independently (Fulk, Mastropieri, & Scruggs, 1992; King- Sears, Mercer, & Sindelar, 1992; Mastropieri, Scruggs, Levin, Gaffney, & McLoone, 1985; McLoone, Scruggs, Mastropieri, & Zucker, 1986; Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1992). The earlier studies successfully trained students with disabilities to use the mnemonic procedures and then to generalize the procedures for learning new vocabulary words (Mastropieri et al., 1985; McLoone et al., 1986). More recent studies trained students with disabilities to use the strategies across different content areas, including science and social studies (Fulk et al., 1992; King-Sears et al., I 992; Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1992). All of these studies demonstrated some positive benefits for training students to use mnemonic strategies independently. More importantly, however, studies shared seven common elements during the training sessions with students with disabilities, as described by Fulk (1994) and Bulgren et al. (1994) and summarized next. STEP 1. Inform students about the purpose of the instruction and the rationale for the strategy training. Tell students that strategy training will be beneficial for them and that their efforts at using the strategies will result in better performance. Provide examples of how the strategy can be beneficial across a variety of learning situations and content areas. For example, in teaching students how to implement the strategy to learn science vocabulary, show them how the method can also be helpful in learning social studies content and for learning English and foreign language vocabulary. STEP 2. Provide instruction in the strategy and in positive attributions toward strategy usage. Demonstrate, 206 INTERVENTION IN SCHOOL AND CLINIC model, and lead students using many examples to ensure their complete understanding of the mnemonic process during the strategy component training. Provide instances and noninstances of correct usage and have them identify and correct any incorrect examples. Make charts listing the steps involved in generating strategies. King-Sears ct al. (1992) taught students the IT FITS strategy: Identify the term. Tell the definition of the term. Find a keyword. Imagine the definition doing something with the keyword. Think about the definition doing something with the keyword. Study what you imagined until you know the definition. (King­Sears et al., 1992, p. 27) Provide ample modeling and practice with students, attributing their successes to strategy use. Say, for example, “When I try hard and use the strategy, I will remember more information.” Reinforce students for trying hard to use the strategy and attribute success and failure to strategy usage.

STEP 3. Provide models during which examples and thinking processes are said aloud. Demonstrate how you proceed with your thinking while generating a strategy for specific examples. Include statements attributing your success to the hard effort and use of the strategy. STEP 4. Allow students opportunities to practice orally and provide corrective feedback. Practice several examples with the class as a whole. Encourage brainstorming during the development of the keyword and interactive picture phase. Allow students to work in small groups and practice generating strategies and brainstorming. Then, have students work with partners to develop strategies before working independently. STEP 5. Arrange guided practice with relevant feed- back on both strategy usage and attribution feedback. Give students additional items to practice using the mnemonic and attribution strategies. Provide corrective feedback and allow opportunities for students to share their thinking with one another about how they developed their strategies. STEP 6. Provide generalization instruction, practice, and feedback. Use different types of materials to demonstrate how the strategy can be applied across content areas and various types of factual information. Have students practice generating strategies for vocabulary words in English, for names of famous people and their accomplished in history, for minerals and their associated attributes in science, and other associated factual information they may need to learn in school STEP 7. Include pos1t1ve reinforcement and pos1t1ve attribution training for completing the tasks and for remembering the information correctly. Provide review and practice with information that was learned using strategies. Students will still need to practice retrieving information learned with strategies. When implemented as a package of training, students with disabilities may be more likely to learn to use and generate these strategies independently. Limitations Research has indicated that students who have been taught strategies for creating their own mnemonics out- perform comparison students in free-study conditions. Unfortunately, however, when students generate their own strategies, instruction may proceed at a much slower rate and students’ performances may be lower than when teachers supply the strategies (Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1992). During a given unit of instruction, teachers should consider whether learning a strategy or learning the content is the priority. Moreover, initial development of many of these strategies can be difficult for anyone. Try developing several strategies yourself before teaching your students with disabilities. If you experience difficulties, imagine that the task will be much more difficult for your students. Each year develop a few strategies to accompany the content areas that you teach most frequently. Over time you will have a great number of effective strategies that you can teach your students. This does not mean that you should not teach your students to develop strategies independently. You can still encourage active strategy development on the part of your students, but if students have difficulties generating strategies, you can supply the ones developed by you or your co-teachers. Perhaps you will find that a combination of teacher- created and student-generated mnemonic strategies is the best way to enhance recall and still promote independent strategy use. SUMMARY

Although many changes in schooling have taken place in recent years, memory for academic content remains an extremely important part of the school learning experience. Students with learning disabilities and other special needs may he at particular risk for failure in this important arena of school functioning. In order to promote academic success in school, we recommend that teachers teach students how to remember as well as what to remember. This can be done by a variety of strategies, but by far the most powerful have been the keyword method, the pegword method, and letter strategies. Systematic instruction using mnemonic strategies for important information to remember, as well as systematic VQL. 33, No. 4, MARCH 1998 207 instruction in independent use of mnemonic strategies, can be important factors in determining school success for students with learning and memory problems. ABOUT THE AUTHORS Margo A. Mastropieri, PhD, is a professor of special education, Department of Educational Studies, Purdue University. Her research interests include ways to facilitate learning, memory, and thinking of student with disabilities. Thomas E. Scruggs, PhD, is a professor of special education, Department of Educational Studies, Purdue University. His research emphasizes research synthesis, science instruction for students with disabilities, and mnemonic instruction for student with disabilities. Address: Margo A. Mastropieri, Department of Educational Studies, LAF.B 5th floor, Purdue University, West Lafayette IN 47907 e-mail: REFERENCES Brigham, F. J., Scruggs, T. E., & Mastropieri, M. A. (1995). Elaborative maps for enhanced learning of historical information: Uniting spatial, verbal, and imaginal information. The Journal of Special Education, 28, 440-460. Bulgren, J. A., Schumaker, J. B., & Deshler, D. D. (1994). The effects of a recall enhancement routine on the test performance of secondary students with and without learning disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 9, 2-11. Cooney, J. B., & Swanson, H. L. (1987). Memory and learning disabilities: An overview. In H. L. Swanson (Ed.), Advances in learning and behavioral disabilities: Memory and learning disabilities (pp. I^K)). Greenwich, CT: JAI. Fulk, B. J. M. (1994). Mnemonic keyword strategy training for students with learning disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 9, 179-185. Fulk, B.J. M., Mastropieri, M. A., & Scruggs, T. F. (1992). Mnemonic generalization training with learning disabled students. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 7, 2-10. Kilpatrick, J. (1985). Doing mathematics without understanding it: A commentary on Higbee and Kunihira. Educational Psychologist, 20, 65-68.

King-Sears, M. F., Mercer, C. D., & Sindelar, P. T. (1992). Toward independence with keyword mnemonics: A strategy for science vocabulary instruction. Remedial and Special Education, 13, 22-33. Lorayne, H., & Lucas, J. (1974). The memory book. New York: Ballantine. Mastropieri, M. A., & Scruggs, T. F. (1989). Constructing more meaningful relationships: Mnemonic instructions for special populations. Educational Psychology Review, 1, 88-111. Mastropieri, M. A., & Scruggs, T E. (1991). Teaching students ways to remember: Strategies for learning mnemonically. Cambridge, MA: Brookline. Mastropieri Mastropieri, M. A., & Scruggs, T. E. (1993). A practical guide for teaching science to students with special needs in inclusive settings. Austin, TX: PRO-ED. Mastropieri, M. A., & Scruggs, T E. (1994). Text-based vs. activities oriented science curriculum: Implications for students with disabilities. Remedial and Special Education, IS, 72-85. Mastropieri, M. A., & Scruggs, T. E. (1997). Best practices in promoting reading comprehension in students with learning disabilities: 1976 to 1996. Remedial and Special Education, 18(4), 197- 213. Mastropieri, M. A., & Scruggs, T. E. (in press). Strategies for teaching in inclusive classrooms. Columbus, OH: Prentice-Hall/Merrill. Mastropieri, M. A., Scruggs, T. E., Bakken J., & Brigham, F. J. (1992). A complex mnemonic strategy for teaching states and capitals: Comparing forward and backward associations. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 7, 96-103. Mastropieri, M. A., Scruggs, T E., & Chung, S. (1997, April). Qualitative and quantitative outcomes associated with inclusive science teaching. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago. Mastropieri, M. A., Scruggs, T. E., & Fulk, B.J. M. (1990). Teaching abstract vocabulary with the keyword method: Effects on recall and comprehension. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 23, 92- 96. Mastropieri, M. A., Scruggs, T F., Levin, J. R., Gaffney, J., & McLoone, B. B. (1985). Mnemonic vocabulary instruction for learning disabled students. Learning Disability Quarterly, 8, 57-63. Mastropieri, M. A., Scruggs, T. E., & Whedon, C. (1997). Using mnemonic strategies to teach information about U.S. presidents: A classroom-based investigation. Learning Disability Quarterly, 20, 13-21. McLoone, B. B., Scruggs, T E., Mastropieri, M. A., & Zucker, S. (1986). Mnemonic instruction and training with learning disabled adolescents. Learning Disabilities Research, 2, 45-53. Putnam, M. L. (1992a). Characteristics of questions on tests administered by mainstream secondary classroom teachers. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 7, 129-136. Putnam, M. L. (1992b). The testing practices of mainstream secondary classroom teachers. Remedial and Special Education, 11-21. Scruggs, T. E., & Mastropieri, M. A. (1992). Classroom applications of mnemonic instruction: Acquisition, maintenance, and generalization. Exceptional

Children, 58, 219-229. Scruggs, T F., Mastropieri, M. A., Bakken, J. P., & Brigham, F J. (1993). Reading vs. doing: The relative effectiveness of textbook based and inquiry-oriented approaches to science education. The Journal of Special Education, 27, 1-15. Scruggs, T F., Mastropieri, M. A., Levin, J. R., & Gaffney J. S. (1985). Facilitating the acquisition of science facts in learning disabled students. American Educational Research Journal, 22, 575- 586. Scruggs, T E., Mastropieri, M. A., McLoone, B. B., Levin, J. R., & Morrison, C. (1987). Mnemonic facilitation of learning disabled students’ memory for expository prose. Journal of Educational Psychology, 79, 27-34. Scruggs, T E., Mastropieri, M. A., Sullivan, G. S., & Hesser, L. S. (1993). Improving reasoning and recall: The differential effects of elaborative interrogation and mnemonic elaboration. Learning Disability Quarterly, 16, 233-240. U.S. Department of Education. (1994). Sixteenth annual report to Congress on the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Washington, DC: Author. 208 Copyright of Intervention in School & Clinic is the property of Sage Publications Inc. and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder’s express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. 208 INTERVENTION IN SCHOOL AND CLINIC

  • Enhancing School Success with Mnemonic Strategies

      Early Mortality: Review of the Charleston Heart Study

      A Critiqué Submitted by

      [Your Name]

      El Centro College

      Psychology 23xx, Section 5xxxx, Fall 2013

      Running head: EARLY MORTALITY 1


      This essay provides a review of forty years of follow-up data from the Charleston Heart Study (CHS) in their article Divorce and Death: Forty Years of the Charleston Heart Study. This includes a longitudinal CHS, which included data collected from more than 1300 adults from 1960 to 2000, Sbarra and Nietert explored the relationship between social connectedness and health using the CHS data and attempted to provide insight into the long term health consequences of becoming separated or divorced (2009). Being separated or divorced during the follow-up window appeared to be one of the strongest predictors of early mortality. In addition to the review of the actual study, a critique is included that provides a critical analysis of the quality of the researchers’ study and article as published in the Psychological Science journal. The critique addresses such items as ethics, usefulness, sample size and diversification as well as a plethora of other interesting items useful to provide collegiate feedback of the work by Sbarra and Nietert.

      Early Mortality: Review of the Charleston Heart Study


      The researchers posed that recent research in social epidemiology has spurred advances into the association between interpersonal relationships and health (Sbarra & Nietert, 2009) but there were limits to the overall findings. It is suggested that relationship can play a vital role in an individual’s lifespan development. Sbarra and Nietert share this sentiment. More specifically, that social integration (i.e. a close relationship in which one feels close to others and that the relationship is reciprocally dependable) is positively correlated with mortality; however, a life deficient in social integration may be a strong predictor of early mortality (Sbarra & Nietert, 2009). The researchers carefully reviewed the data from the CHS to help explain the mechanism linking social connectedness and health.

      The authors were interested in providing new insights into the long-term health consequences of divorce or separation. Many previous studies on the link between divorce and health have failed to present marital status as a dynamic variable. However, the researchers took into account both the length of time the participants were divorced and eventual remarriage rates which appears to have significantly improved their ability to make the link.


      In order to present marital status as dynamically as possible, the researchers classified participants in the study in three ways. First, marital status (married, separated-divorced, widowed, or never married) at the first assessment was examined as a predictor of long-term mortality (Sbarra & Nietert, 2009). Second, the researchers calculated the hazard ratio (HR) of early death for adults who were separated or divorced at each assessment relative to all other participants who contributed at least one marital-status entry (Sbarra & Nietert, 2009). Finally, to determine if the effect of remaining separated or divorced differed from the effect of having ever experienced a separation or divorce, the researchers reclassified the sample to calculate the HR of adults who simply experienced a marital separation or divorce at some point during the CHS follow-up period relative to all other participants (Sbarra & Nietert, 2009).

      The researchers used data collected in the Charleston Heart Study to address the possible link between marital status and health. The CHS was a community-based cohort study designed to assess the normal course of health and aging for adults over age 35 residing in Charleston County, South Carolina and while the study began in 1960, marital-status data were collected during several follow-up phases: 1962–1964, 1974–1975, 1984–1985, 1987–1989, and 1990–1991 (Sbarra & Nietert, 2009). Mortality data were updated throughout the study, with the final revision spanning the entire 41-year period.

      The CHS began with an initial sample of 2181 adults, 1195 women and 986 men, 61% were of Caucasian decent, while the remainder of the sample was of African American decent (Sbarra & Nietert, 2009). At the onset of the study, the average age of the participants were 48 years 9 months. The fact that the average age of the participants was not exceptionally young, combined with the extended length of the study, provided an opportunity for the researchers to capture data to the end of life for the majority of the participants (Sbarra & Nietert, 2009).

      In the CHS, information on marital status was collected by self-report, and participants were classified as married, widowed, separated, divorced, or never married at each assessment. In the researchers’ analysis, the separated and divorced categories were merged to create a single category defined by the experience of marital separation (Sbarra & Nietert, 2009). At the 1962–1964 assessment, the first-time marital status data was captured, 81.2% of the sample was married, 10% was widowed, 5.5% was separated or divorced, and 3.3% had never been married (Sbarra & Nietert, 2009).

      In-person medical interviews at the beginning of the CHS provided a large amount of medical data, such as blood pressure, smoking status, and body mass index, that helped the researchers predict mortality. To predict mortality over the 41-year study period, the researchers used Cox proportional hazards models, a regression approach commonly referred to as survival analysis. The researchers were able to create predictors for each variable to isolate the effect of the variable of interest – time spent divorced or separated on age of death.

      Of the 1,376 adults in the restricted sample assessed at baseline, 74% had died by 2000, with the remaining 26% excluded from the research (Sbarra & Nietert, 2009). The researchers found that separated and divorced participants had a 55% greater likelihood of death in the follow-up period than participants from the other three categories of relationship status (Sbarra & Nietert, 2009).

      The analysis of the CHS data by the researchers suggests that longevity of life is positively correlated to healthy and cherished relationships and that living a large portion of life as a separated or divorced adult may add considerable risk for all-cause of mortality (as cited in Sbarra & Nietert). It may be further suggested that the process of a marital break may not present the highest mortality risk; rather it is more likely the time spent without a significant other that is the most crucial factor. The results do not lend to reasons of cause but suggest results of significant correlation. This agrees with Sbarra and Nietert, who also suggest that additional research is necessary to fully understand the mechanisms behind the elevated risk of early mortality associated with time spent as a separated or divorced individual (2009).


      The Charleston Heart Study, on which the article is based, appeared to be conducted in an ethical and scientific manner. In addition, the researchers appeared to be interested in conducting a study that included a diverse sample. After the initial 1960 phase of the study, 102 Black men of high socioeconomic status were added to increase the diversity component, which could be considered “forward-thinking” for 1962-era America. The fact that this was a longitudinal study (i.e. conducted over a span of 41 years) proved to be beneficial. Since the original study was conducted with cardiovascular health in mind, the fact that the authors had the insight of gathering other useful data for later use, is truly impressive.

      Still, there are some shortcomings with the data, as Sbarra and Nietert admit (2009). The incident of divorce was less customary at the onset of the CHS, though it would become significantly more common as the study progressed. Consequently, this presents one of the limits of a cohort study (i.e. how the customs of a single generation can affect the results of a study unlike another generation). The number of participants that remained separated or divorced throughout the follow-up period was relatively small, limiting the ability of the sample to be generalized across the entire population. It may have also been more efficacious to delineate between those who were separated and those who were divorced in the original study. Separating this group into two variables may have expanded the results and provided more insight.

      Despite these limits, the work of the authors has provided contemporary researchers with a good start in understanding the link between marriage status and longevity of life. A more modern approach to this type of study, with more nuanced relationship status categories and more frequent follow-up occasions, might benefit the subject matter. A new study, with a more contemporary cohort sample and the opportunity to collect data specifically useful to psychological research, may proffer more insight for the avid researcher. Additional follow up studies may also include individuals from select cultures or ethnicities as well as individuals from a variety of socioeconomic statuses.


      Sbarra, D. A. & Nietert, P. J. (2009). Divorce and death: Forty years of the Charleston heart study. Psychological Science20(1), pp. 107-113.

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