F EATURES PSYCHOLOGY www.teachwire.net | 37 apples more than you. How many apples does Jen have?’. Replicating previous research done by D’Aily et al, we found that primary children find this self-referent version significantly easier to solve – they are faster and more accurate. Similar to the spelling task, this may be related to the children finding the self-referent version more engaging, as well as benefiting from the reduced load on working memory can be used so that one child gets all the cards with a blue sticker, and another all the cards with a green sticker. We conducted a study in which primary children sorted flashcards depicting novel named shapes into those owned by themselves and those owned by the experimenter, using this colour-sorting technique. Afterwards, we asked the children to draw and label the shapes frommemory. We found that memory was much higher for the cards they owned themselves, even though they had only seen each card for a couple of seconds, and didn’t ‘own’ the shapes in any meaningful way. This ownership game strategy might be useful when you are trying to engage children in learning facts, for example times tables, second-language vocabulary or science terms. You can change who has ‘ownership’ of the different cards across different sessions, to ensure they get a broad overview. Overall, the research suggests that children are more engaged in the learning when it’s put into an ownership game, and much more likely to remember the information! Try it yourself Talking to teachers about self- achieved by removing one of the new characters. Ownership games A third idea for applying self-referencing in education that we have tested is to use ownership games to link information to self. In ownership games, information presented on flashcards can be divided between a number of children so that each pupil owns some of the items. For example, a colour sorting task referencing has made me realise that actually, many people in education already use this technique spontaneously, without knowing that they are doing it. If you have a child in class who is struggling to generate ideas for a piece of creative writing, presentation or picture, do you encourage them to think about something that’s happened to them as a starting point? Do you ever ask children to reflect on their own experiences in relation to a topic, to help them to realise its importance or impact? These are examples of self-referencing – whenever children are thinking about themselves, or relating new information to their own experiences, the same memory and attention biases associated with self-referencing will be triggered, supporting their learning. As these examples show, self-referencing is quick, free and easy to implement – adding ‘you’ to a task really can boost learning. TP DrSheila Cunningham isasenior lecturer in psychology atAbertay University. Shehaspublishedwidelyon self-processingbiases incognition.