A Resource for Teachers, Clinicians, Parents, and Students by the Brain Injury Association of New York State.
Problem: The student appears to be forgetful, forgetting homework, forgetting newly learned information, and the like.
Cognitive/Self-Regulatory Possibility:
Specific encoding problems

Step 1: Organize observations relevant to the problematic behavior/issue

  • Who is reporting the problem?
  • When does it occur? (Include time of day, activities etc).
  • Where does it occur?
  • What tends to precede the problematic behavior/issue?
  • What tends to follow the problematic behavior/issue?
  • What is the age and functioning level of the student?
  • Previous documentation/charts?

Step 2: Identify possible contributors to the problematic behavior/issue

In many cases, there are several contributors to the student’s identified problem. These contributors may interact with each other, therefore, it may be necessary to combine tests from different categories of possibilities. The existence of several interacting contributors may become obvious as you proceed through individual intervention experiments.

Specific encoding problems: Some students have difficulty with memory because they have specific difficulty encoding the information (i.e., placing it into memory storage). (See Tutorial on Memory.)

Relevant observations: The student may appear to understand information when it is presented, but nevertheless fail to retrieve the information using free retrieval, cued retrieval, or recognition memory tasks. That is, cues do not help and multiple choice or true/false questions do not help. The student may report that she has no memory when asked about specific information.

Useful experiments for assessment and intervention:

  1. Observe and record the frequency and/or intensity of the problem behavior when a new teaching strategy or support is being implemented versus when it is not being implemented.
  2. Possible encoding-related teaching strategies or supports (See Tutorial on Memory): Create an environment that allows for encoding-related instructional support. This may include (a) encouraging the student to create associations or elaborations when first processing the information. The adult may suggest associations or elaborations for the student.
  3. If the frequency and/or intensity of the targeted behavior decreases during intervention, it may be that the problem behavior is a result of specific encoding problems. (See Tutorial on Memory.)

Possible referrals: School psychologist for memory assessment; instructional support specialist for instructional strategies

A program of the Brain Injury Association of New York State, and funded by the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council.

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The Brain Injury Association of New York State
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