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The Psychology of Memory

Course Code: PSYC 3370
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Department: Psychology
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This course provides an introduction to the psychology of memory. It is concerned with the nature of human memory, how the memory system works, what we remember, and why we forget. Various theoretical formulations regarding memory processes will be examined, relevant empirical evidence will be assessed, and practical applications of this research will be considered.

Course Content

  1. Historical Factors
    • Memory vs. learning distinction.
    • Behaviourist tradition.
    • Cognitive tradition.
  2. Theoretical Approaches
    • Definition of memory.
    • Sensory memory.
    • Short term memory.
    • Working memory.
    • Long term memory.
    • Levels of processing.
  3. Visual Memory
    • Imagery and working memory.
    • The neuropsychology of memory.
  4. Encoding and Memory
    • Practice and memory.
    • Massed and distributed practice.
  5. Organization and Memory
    • The role of organization and the use of mnemonics.
  6. Memory Failure
    • The forgetting curve.
    • The role of interference in forgetting.
    • Decay and forgetting.
  7. Memory Distortions and Memory Illusions
    • Theoretical issues.
    • Eyewitness testimony.
    • Repressed and recovered memories.
    • False memory syndrome.
  8. Retrieval
    • The concept of retrieval.
    • Forgetting due to retrieval failure.
    • Recall and recognition.
    • Eyewitness testimony.
  9. Autobiographical Memory
    • Strategies for recollection.
    • Forgetting autobiographical events.
    • Retrograde amnesia.
  10. Memory, Emotion and Cognition
    • Repression.
    • Mood and memory.
  11. Memory Disorders
    • Amnesia.
    • Closed head injury and memory.
  12. Practical Applications
    • Mnemonics aids.
    • Use of imagery in improving memory for names and faces.
    • SQ3R method.
    • Method of loci.
    • Peg-word system.

Methods of Instruction

The course will employ a variety of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including some of the following:

  • lecture
  • audio-visual materials
  • seminar presentations
  • small group discussion
  • research projects/papers
  • computer based cognitive experiments and exercises
  • practical memory demonstrations
  • computer based tutorial exercises

Means of Assessment

The course evaluation will be in accordance with Douglas College and Psychology Department policies. Evaluations will be based on the course objectives. The specific evaluation criteria will be provided by the instructor at the beginning of the semester.

An example of a possible evaluation scheme would be:

5 quizzes 50%
Seminar presentation 10%
Term project paper 20%
Final Exam 20%

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:

  1. List the major historical figures in the development of the psychology of memory and describe their contributions.
  2. Define memory, explain why we need memory, and discuss sensory, visual, and auditory memory.
  3. Explain the various models of memory such as Short Term Memory (STM), Long Term Memory (LTM), and levels of processing.
  4. Describe the effects of practice on memory, the role of organization, and the use of mnemonics.
  5. Explain why memory fails and the role of interference in forgetting.
  6. Describe memory distortion, explain why and how it happens, and critically analyze the research on eyewitness testimony, repressed memories, recovered memories and false memory syndrome.
  7. Explain the concept of retrieval, and how it relates to recall and recognition.
  8. Discuss the research into autobiographical memory and retrograde amnesia.
  9. Explain the relationship between emotion and memory.
  10. Demonstrate practical applications of memory research, such as name-face remembering, use of imagery, the peg word system, method of loci, SQ3R, use of distributed practice.

course prerequisites

PSYC 1100 and PSYC 1200 and PSYC 2360

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.