People often admire the individual who can tell a good story. The ability to recant details correctly requires verbal learning, a vital brain activity that facilitates information retention. Every learning concept emphasizes specific aspects of learning. Behavioral learning highlights the association learning that occurs as the individual develops conditioned responses contingent on the association to a stimulus. Cognitive learning relates to the mental strategies that build a body of knowledge, manipulate that knowledge, and extrapolate to apply the knowledge to similar situations. Exploring concepts relating to verbal learning including comparing serial learning, paired associate learning, free recall and the concept of mnemonics in the recall of verbal stimuli identify verbal learning as a transition from behavioral to cognitive learning.
Concept of Verbal Learning.
Humans work at learning and this may be a unique quality. Other species learn through conditioning, but humans also use cognitive functioning. An important tool in knowledge acquisition is verbal learning or memorization. Early in an academic career individuals are required to learn information such as the alphabet or multiplication tables by rote learning. This method uses repeated rehearsals to memorize and recite the essential facts related to a subject. The information the individuals memorize is essential for critical thinking problems that the student will encounter later in his or her academic career. Rote memorization facilitates quick recall but does not facilitate the application of the facts to real problems. The student knows that two times two equals four, but must then learn that four divided by two equals two, or that if they want to share four apples with a friend they will each have two apples. Rote learning serves as a basis for later learning of concepts.
Verbal learning expands on the rote method and offers the student opportunities to play and active role in the manipulation of stimuli such as, images, aromas, settings, etc. Some individuals appear to learn better using verbal learning techniques. These individuals usually find pleasure in reading and writing. They may memorize poetry, tongue twisters, etc., and exhibit extensive vocabularies. The verbal learner brings cognitive variables to the task, forming associations, and linking sets of information to previously acquired knowledge. Individuals who debate, write, or speak as a part of their daily lives use verbal learning techniques to ply their trade.
The Ebbinghaus Contribution
Herman Ebbinghaus studied verbal learning using himself as a subject. Specifically, he memorized lists of nonsense syllables timing himself, recording the number of rehearsals, detailing his techniques, and testing his recall. He rehearsed until his recall was at the standards set for the specific experiment. He recorded how long it took to re-memorize a list after allowing a lapse of time sufficient to forget...