Linking the Classroom Context and the Development of Children’s Memory Skills

Authored by: Peter Ornstein , Jennifer Coffman , Jennie Grammer , Priscilla San Souci , Laura Mccall

Handbook of Research on Schools, Schooling, and Human Development

Print publication date:  May  2010
Online publication date:  June  2010

Print ISBN: 9780805859485
eBook ISBN: 9780203874844
Adobe ISBN: 9781135283872


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Over the course of the elementary school years, children become increasingly facile users of an impressive array of strategies for remembering (Schneider & Pressley, 1997). Indeed, there are dramatic age-related changes in the use of deliberate techniques such as rehearsal, organization, and elaboration that influence the encoding, storage, and retrieval of information (Schneider & Bjorklund, 1998). Much has been learned about this progression in skill, but less attention has been devoted to the task of exploring the forces that affect the development of these important cognitive abilities (Ornstein & Haden 2001; Ornstein, Haden, & San Souci, 2008). Yet, it has been suggested that these skills typically develop in the context of children’s experiences in settings such as school in which remembering is both expected and valued (Cole, 1992; Rogoff & Mistry, 1990; Wagner, 1981). As such, the perspective adopted here stems from the assumption that aspects of the elementary school classroom may serve as mediators of developmental changes in children’s skills for remembering. Moreover, given that social-communicative interactions among parents and their preschoolers have been implicated in the development of young children’s abilities to talk about their prior experiences (e.g., Reese, Haden, & Fivush, 1993), emphasis is placed here on the nature of the memory-relevant language used by teachers in the course of everyday instruction.

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