Forgetting curve

The forgetting curve - or also called ebbinghaussche curve - illustrates the degree of forgetting within a certain time. It was discovered by the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus through self tests and is intended to show, inter alia, as long as man retains new learning and what percentage he has forgotten. In connection with the forgetting curve of the Berlin professor also measured the number of repetitions as a function of time were needed to after a break to be able to reproduce the memorized sequences of syllables correctly. ( Savings method)

His results indicate roughly that we after learning only can get 60% of what has been learned already 20 minutes. After an hour, are only 45 % and after a day even only 34% of what is learned in the memory. Six days after learning again the memory is already shrunk to 23%; lasting only 15 % of the learned are stored.

Forgetting is dependent on the type of material to be learned, for example, the person can usually better remember word pairs such as foreign language vocabulary than at random, nonsense syllables; Students have three to six days up to 90 % of the learned vocabulary in memory. However, Ebbinghaus experimented with nonsense syllable series, which is why he has been criticized, inter alia.

Reception and criticism

Experimental psychologists reviewed the construction of meaningless syllables initially as very positive, but they turned from their perspective represents a methodical scientific and rigourous With time Ebbinghaus came above all from a holistic and gestalt theoretical research into the criticism. Thus, it was questioned whether the self- tests, by means of which the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve aufstellte, are likely to provide valid research results, since no control of confounding factors in terms of practice effects existed. In other respects, the point was made that the use of nonsense syllables in the memory experiments led to a loss of control of confounding factors. Nonsense syllables, randomly formed by a vowel ( or umlaut ) and two consonants can be confounded useful or dialect words just yet, as the examples of " door " or " nit" show. In view of the methodology of the tests was, among other things inaccurate measurement of time, the artificial learning situation and the reduction to repetitions of syllables to measure memory method criticized.

The research and laws, including, inter alia, the forgetting curve is one, Ebbinghaus carried the reputation of a pioneer in the to of that time still relatively unexplored field of memory research, a. In addition, repeated many researchers, such as the Göttingen psychologist Georg Elias, with greater methodological rigor attempts by Ebbinghaus. Thus, the findings in its basic features are still considered valid.

Heinz von Foerster has shown that any review of learning material for the retained subject matter constitutes a new learning situation. In addition, this use of nonsense syllables for learning curves has only a limited predictive value for meaningful trained contexts. The neurology and brain research have demonstrated that personally bedeutsamem learning are completely different forgetting curves. Therefore, the following ' implications of the forgetting curve " confined to nonsense syllables.

Implications of the forgetting curve

  • The process of forgetting must be mitigated by multiple repetition of the learning material ( overlearning ), each repetition of the interval after which another repetition is necessary is increased. What is not used in everyday life, we forget; and only by constant use of knowledge to keep it.
  • Learning materials must be as clear and concise explain the meaning of the matter, anytime offer the learner an overview. For example, a student will first learn what hormones are at all, and only then, what effect have the individual hormones.
  • The learning curve of Ebbinghaus, however, does not measure how many syllables were reproduced correctly yet, but how much is the cost compared to the initial learning.

After Christian Michel and Felix Novak (1990 ) following approximate forgetting curves apply:

  • " Principles and laws " are forgotten after 5 days to about 1 %, and after 30 days to about 5 %
  • Poems 25% or 50 %
  • Prose 53% and 60 %
  • Nonsense syllables 78% and 80%

This shows clearly that it would be helpful in learning to weave the fabric into a rhythm / rhyme or a story. For example, there are Muslims who memorize the Koran - because its content is in rhyme.