Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Don't look now: Recall, rapport and (haptic) pronunciation teaching

Nice study by Nash, Nash, Morris and Smith. (summarized by Science Daily) titled, " Does rapport-building boost the eyewitness eyeclosure effect in closed questioning?" (See full citation below.) 
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Many appear to close their eyes to help remember. Research in several fields has looked at the impact of eye closure. One of the persistent puzzles has been why there should be such variability in subject response, whether in hypnosis or, as in this study, witness recall of events. One hypothesis has been that rapport with the interviewer or researcher is critical. Here is the bottom line from the authors: 

"It is clear from our research that closing the eyes and building rapport help with witness recall . . . Although closing your eyes to remember seems to work whether or not rapport has been built beforehand, our results show that building rapport makes witnesses more at ease with closing their eyes. That in itself is vital if we are to encourage witnesses to use this helpful technique during interviews."

I have for decades ( more or less randomly) asked students to use eye closure when trying to "anchor" or recall pronunciation. By anchoring I mean using a gesture culminating in touch of both hands on the stressed syllable of a word or phrase. When doing that, in general, the eyes tend to follow the hands, to some degree controlling attention in the visual field. There are, occasionally, learners who seem to be better at anchoring with eyes closed as well. (I have worked with a few blind students and, once guided through the gestures of the system, they do at least as well as the sighted, if not better.) 

Another aspect of the process that I have not always attended to well is what I'd call "daily rapport," something closer to what is used in the study, working quickly to get relaxed, comfortable attention in the class before getting back to the heavy lifting.

Going to begin taking a second look at eye closure during directed recall in our work and the requisite level of rapport to enhance it. 

An "eye opening" piece of research, eh! 

Full citation:
University of Surrey. (2015, January 16). Closing your eyes boosts memory recall, new study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 20, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150116085606.htm

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