Have you ever been in a conversation and have forgotten the topic? Or have you walked purposely into a room only to have forgotten your purpose? As you watch, pay attention to how Peter Doolittle relates these occurrences to working memory. Working memory is the process that allows us to process and store immediate experiences and to integrate them with long –term memory. Watch for helpful strategies that will be useful in improving your own working memory. Note that most psychology texts say that working memory capacity is about 7 pieces of information but he says it is less; what could account for this?

Why you should listen:

Peter Doolittle is a professor of educational psychology in the School of Education at Virginia Tech, where he is also the executive director of the Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research. He teaches classes such as Cognition and Instruction, Constructivism and Education, Multimedia Cognition and College Teaching, but his research mainly focuses on learning in multimedia environments and the role of “working memory.”

Who is he:

Doolittle has taught educational psychology around the world. He is the executive editor of the International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and the co-executive editor of the International Journal of ePortfolio.


  1. Why is it difficult to multitask (and do each of the tasks equally well (like walk and text)?
  1. What are the 4 basic components of working memory?
  1. What are the advantages of having a good working memory?
  1. What does he mean when he says that experiences come at us a tremendously velocity over a short period of time?
  1. What are some strategies that can be helpful for the retention of information?
  1. Doolittle has provided his own “take home message” for his talk. Make up your different “take home” message.

How your “working memory” makes sense of the world with Peter Doolittle


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