Membership method: Learn how to leverage language learning

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learning by Association states that our brains remember information using associative memory as opposed to isolated events.

Try to sit down, close your eyes, relax your mind, and prepare to do a memory exercise. Try to remember a system of balance calibration. Get ready to remember some really specific details, like the colors, the size, the shape.

Imagine the gears of the system working to measure a scale. Nothing more than that, just the calibration system.

Difficult, isn't it? When you try to visualize the calibration system, it is easier to imagine a self-propelled system, a musical instrument calibration, but the difficulty in imagining the balance calibration system is very difficult.

But what would be the reason for that?

Associative learning is a principle of learning which states that ideas and experiences reinforce each other and can be mentally linked to each other.

In a nutshell, it means that our brains were not designed to remember information in isolation, but instead we bundle the information together in an associative memory. 

That's why it's hard to remember just one balance without thinking about the calibration system as a whole. It would be easier if you had a advertising balloon to remind us of the image of what we are trying to remember.

Associative learning can be a powerful teaching and management tool in the classroom and when learning a foreign language.

In the classroom, it has many uses. It can be used to help students connect more deeply with information and remember that information more accurately.

Learning and associative behavior

Associative learning is a form of conditioning. Some lines of behavioral psychology defend the idea that behavior can be modified or learned based on a stimulus and a response.

This means that behavior can be learned or unlearned based on the response it generates.

For example, a professional engaged in a executive project you can know that your boss liked your presentation (stimulus) if she continues to involve the professional in more activities (response).

Thus, using positive and negative reinforcers, that is, stimuli used to change behavior, behavior can be modified to meet a certain expectation.

This type of learning can be useful in training companies, managing the classroom, preparing professionals in a translation company and to enhance language learning.

Like conditioning, associative memory can be invoked based on the relationship between two stimuli, positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement.

Some examples of positive reinforcement are:

  • Give good feedback to work well done;
  • Allow a self-assessment to complete a task;
  • Verbal reward for effort and hard work;
  • Material reward for effort and hard work.

By using positive reinforcement, teachers teaching a new language can condition students to associate good work and good behavior with a reward. On the other hand, negative reinforcement can be used to punish students for misbehavior.

Some examples of negative reinforcement are:

  • Taking benefits from students who misbehave;
  • Deduct points from work that was delivered late;
  • Verbally score the unexpected behavior.

a company of software development You can develop visual elements such as infographics to document the number of times a student or professional misbehaved, for example.

When the graph line is full, this student or professional loses some benefit that he had previously guaranteed.

Types of associative learning

Associative memory can be a powerful teaching tool.

As associative learning is based on the principle that ideas and experiences can be linked and ultimately reinforce each other, association can be used to help students remember information.

It occurs when you learn something based on a new stimulus. The most famous example is Ivan Pavlov's use of dogs to demonstrate that a stimulus, such as the ringing of a bell, leads to a reward, or in this case, food.

There are two types of this type of learning: classical conditioning and operant conditioning.

classical conditioning

Classical conditioning involves the use of a stimulus, such as the bell in Pavlov's experiments, which is combined with a reward, resulting from salivation in anticipation of receiving food.

Over repeated trials, the conditioned stimulus causes learning. On the other hand, repeated instances without the reward lead to the extinction of the behavior.

When the conditioned stimulus, the ringing of the bell, takes place before the reward, the person or animal has time to discover that the ringing of the bell means something and learn or form an association.

operant conditioning

Operant conditioning involves using a schedule of reinforcements, or rewards, and punishments until the behavior is learned.

For example, if the dog heard the bell and stepped on a lever, he would receive the dog biscuit, the reward.

Alternatively, if the dog steps on the lever when the bell does not ring and receives a shock, a positive punishment, this would shape behavior in the opposite direction. A negative punishment, on the contrary, would be to take something, like a cookie, if the dog barks.

Associative learning to improve teaching and learning

One solution is to change the way we use notes. Instead of assigning grades based on results such as test performance, coursework assignments, etc, use them to encourage behaviors that we know improve learning outcomes.

Reward the student for reviewing and submitting their work. Reward the student for deeply participating in the class. Many schools already do this to some degree, awarding so-called “participation points” or allowing students to retake exams that have failed.

Yet, they must take the necessary step to fully incorporate these ideas into course requirements and classroom standards.

To this end, classes must be structured in a way that allows teachers to employ learning techniques and reward students for adhering to this structure.

Teachers should reward students for making insightful visualizations or organizing principles of material. In short, schools should step up efforts to reward teachers for taking advantage of science learning.

People can also use associated learning to study better. So, associate good things with learning. For some it can be a nice cup of tea while reading the required essays.

For others, it might be eating candy after doing some coding for a computer science class.

More broadly, we can also link learning to improving our memory. 

A common example is remembering the names of new people you meet in a meeting with an software vendor. Suppose you meet three new people named Flor, Vadinho and Teodoro. 

A good way to remember these names is to rely on the knowledge you already have. These names are associated with you by the classic work by Jorge Amado, “Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands”, as they are the main characters. That way, it will be easy to remember the names.

Another example is “ice cream” used in a topographic survey service. Many professionals learn this phrase as a way of recording the physical formula “S=S0 + vt”, which tells about the uniform rectilinear motion, in which the final position is the result of the sum between the position and the velocity multiplied by the time.

“Ice cream” may be a silly command, but it's often an easy and fun word for students to remember rather than a formula unconnected with their realities and seemingly with little connection.

Association requires, of course, changing the way we think about learning, from incentives to memory. But it's a way to improve learning outcomes by simply leveraging associative learning.

How to apply the association method?

Students face a much more complex set of decisions as they progress through their learning. For example, “how should I study?”, “how much should I study?”, “do I know the material?”, “which material is more important?”.

In other words, achieving better performance is not always obvious. This is important because students can spend a lot of time in the maze of decisions they make about learning while continuing to be “punished” with bad grades.

Grades also distort the way students approach learning. When researchers ask students how they study, they describe an approach if they were studying for a test, lots of memorization and studying.

They describe a different approach if they were really trying to deeply learn the concepts of understanding the material and its practical applications.

There is often, then, a clear difference between the type of learning that produces a good grade in the course and the type of learning that actually leads to an understanding of the underlying content.

But we don't just want students to solve this or that problem or any particular problem.

Students need to use what they have learned to solve problems and environmental solutions, having the tools to reason through situations we haven't even thought about yet.

Grades, even the best, are just an imperfect measure of the durable and flexible knowledge most of us want to impart to students. This is important because the performance we are rewarding is not exactly what we want students to do.

This text was originally developed by the blog team Investment Guide, where you can find hundreds of informative content on different segments.