As the number of states and local school districts requiring high-stakes testing grows, controversy intensifies around the issue of the impact of such testing on the quality of instruction and on the education of the students who ostensibly are its intended beneficiaries (National Research Council, 1999; Sadowski, 2000). Many parents, students, and educators express concerns about the emphasis on improving the passing rates on high-stakes tests (Rose & Gallup, 2000; Schrag, 2000). They fear that such a focus militates against good instruction and tends to reduce the scope of the curriculum to that which is tested. Implicit in these concerns is the assumption that getting good results on the tests requires repetitive drill and practice on isolated skills and content to the exclusion of what might be termed teaching for meaning. These concerns also assume that teaching for meaning will result in poorer performance on the tests.
Particularly troubling is the effect on those students who experience difficulty with learning, live in high-poverty conditions, and represent a diversity of cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Educators use various terms to describe these students (at risk, educationally disadvantaged, marginal, etc.) to capture the disconnection between students and the conditions designed for their learning. Typically, although attention may be directed to their needs, little effort has been expended to identify and build on the assets that they bring with them from their diverse backgrounds (Levin, 1987).
In everyday life the experience of remembering takes two forms. One is retrospective memory, which is concerned with the reconstruction of past events, the other is prospective memory, i.e. remembering to carry out an intended action in the future (Wilkins and Baddeley 1978; Meacham and Leiman 1982; Winograd 1988). In this chapter the focus is on prospective memory, which is the complex process of remembering to remember. In questionnaire studies, self-perception of prospective memory is assessed with items such as: ‘Do you find you forget appointments?’ or ‘Do you sometimes forget to give a message to someone?’ (Hermann and Neisser 1978; Bennett-Levy and Powell 1980). For most of us, lapses of memory of this kind occur from time to time, but there is evidence that prospective memory failure can be a profound problem following brain injury or dementia (Cockburn 1995; Kinsella et al. 1996). For example, in a test of practical memory skills, Knight and Godfrey (1985) found that a group of amnesic patients with Korsakoff's syndrome were never able to complete a task in which they had to follow a set of three instructions involving a visit to a clinic secretary. In practice, amnesic and demented patients have considerable problems executing any kind of prospective memory task. Despite its obvious relevance to understanding memory functioning in our daily lives, prospective memory has been little studied in the experimental literature. In both clinical and experimental research, the primary focus has been on retrospective recall.
Despite its obvious relevance to understanding memory functioning in our daily lives, prospective memory has been little studied in the experimental literature.
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