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Peer Review

Manufacturing Memories

by Elizabeth Loftus


Overall Numeric Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality: 4.75 stars
Effectiveness: 4.75 stars
Ease of Use: 4.75 stars
Reviewed: Mar 16, 2013 by Psychology
Overview: This learning material is a video taping of a "talk delivered to UCI Summer Session Freshman Start participants by Distinguished Professor Elizabeth Loftus.” Human Memory: How Memories Can Be Changed By Things We Are Told by Dr. Elizabeth Loftus provides an overview of the body of work of Dr. Loftus, memory and legal cases, memory paradigms (the effects of misinformation) and the effects of the SERE survival school for soldiers. Lower division undergraduate students—but especially upper division psychology majors in cognitive science courses (and perhaps even graduate students)—would profit from seeing this video. The video is about 50 minutes long. The material is free and part of University of California Irvine's OpenCourseWare website.
Type of Material: Presentation (video)
Recommended Uses: • The presentation would be useful as an introduction to the experimental study of memory and an understanding of the concerns over the accuracy of memory (particularly eyewitness testimony). • The videotaped lecture could be shown in a face-to-face class, linked in an online class, or given as a homework assignment (to be discussed in class later). The video is almost an hour long and may be too lengthy for some class sessions; an instructor could preview beforehand and select particular segments for classroom viewing if there is not time to show the video in its entirety. Whether shown in or viewed outside of class, an instructor should provide some context for students who have not been exposed to memory theory and research.
Technical Requirements: • Requires Internet access and a compatible browser. • Tested using Windows 7, Mozilla Firefox (v10.0.2& 11), Internet Explorer (v8.0.7), and Google Chrome (v25.0.1). Some delays with the video loading if other windows were open. • Video is embedded in website and runs via JW Player. • Not compatible with Safari on iPad3 and iPhone4. Mac OS and other mobile devices not tested.
Identify Major Learning Goals: • The learner will develop a better understanding of psychological research on false and manufactured memories. • The learner will develop a deeper appreciation of a career path as a researcher in cognitive science.
Target Student Population: • Dr. Loftus' talk was given to first-year college students. It is appropriate not only for lower division undergraduates, however, but also for upper division students in courses in which memory (especially false memories or eyewitness memory) is a topic. Graduate students who have never seen Dr. Loftus discuss her work would also profit from viewing the video. • Overall, students from high school through graduate students as well as professionals would benefit from this presentation.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: No prerequisite knowledge is needed though it would be beneficial to have some understanding of memory research.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: • Elizabeth Loftus is one of the premier experts in the field of memory research and a distinguished professor at UC-Irvine where this video was taped. As communicated on the webpage on which the video is located, "In 2002, Dr. Loftus was recognized as one of the 100 most influential researchers in psychology in the 20th century, and the highest ranked woman on the list." Therefore, the content of this lecture is of the highest quality. • Overall, the content provides a current overview of research in the field and its importance.
Concerns: • The video is not of the highest quality--neither the sound nor the picture. Also, the camera is a little far from Dr. Loftus (and the screen on which her slides are projected), making it difficult to see the PowerPoint slides. It helps somewhat to make the video full-screen. • At just under one (1) hour, the presenter still needs to rush through some interesting issues toward the end.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: • The lecture is highly effective for a number of reasons. First, it exposes students to one of the leading experts in research on memory--research which students are bound to find fascinating. Hearing the researcher herself talk about and illustrate research she has conducted is much more powerful than an instructor simply talking about Dr. Loftus' work in a classroom. Second, Dr. Loftus also tells something of her history in her talk, starting as an undergraduate at UC-Irvine, so that students can see her as an example of how one can advance in a psychology career. • Memory research is challenging for the average person to grasp. Dr. Loftus walks the audience through key findings, thus providing learners an opportunity to experience an overview from a leading researcher in the field.
Concerns: • If additional browsers are open, the video tends to lag in a few places past the ½ hour mark. • As previously noted, the lecture would be more powerful and effective if the video were of a higher quality with a closer view of Dr. Loftus.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: • The video is obvious on the webpage and the controls to pause, play, adjust volume, and enlarge to full screen are in plain sight. • The site is easy to use. It is possible to pause and return the video. One can forward ahead if only a certain section is needed.
Concerns: • The video starts automatically as soon as one links to the webpage on which it is located; if the video is used in a classroom environment, an instructor would need to be aware of this issue so that s/he could provide any introduction before linking or pause the video as soon as the page loads.