Journal of English Teaching through Movies and Media 2016;17(4):93-114.
Published online November 30, 2016.
Semantic and Episodic Memory, Same or Different Category?: With Reference to the TV Documentary Ancient Aliens
Yoon Ah Rho
The purpose of the paper is to investigate how semantic information (=SI) and episodic information (=EI) interact from an educational perspective. Tulving (2002) argues that semantic memory (=SM) and episodic memory (=EM) are separate categories of long-term memory (=LTM). In this paper, we consider that Tulving’s argument may be inappropriate in educational contexts, that SI and EI exist on a continuum in LTM, and that SM is not a separate category. The subjects were four college students majoring in English. They used the TV documentary Ancient Aliens (Burns, 2009), which is full of SI. In the first stage of the experiment, all the subjects wrote short reports about content they found hard to understand. Next, they were required to select impressive expressions and unimpressive ones and to write comments on their selections. After one month, a delayed recognition test was administered. The comment writing activity helped convert SI into EI. The result was that they improved their degree of memory for both selections. This experiment shows that humans can understand SI by way of EI. This has implications for education in that teachers need to develop activities in which SI is converted into EI in order to help students understand clearly.
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