It is my first time to come across the terms “primacy and recency effects,” but on hindsight they have been part of my daily life as a professional.  Now, that I understand better the implication of prime-time 1, down-time and prime-time 2 in the learning process,  I can improve the way I deliver  my own presentations during meetings and workshops. My take away is that “short discussions are better than long ones.”

For classroom instruction, it is very important that a learning facilitator is conscious on what to take up during prime- time 1 – or at the beginning of the learning period.  It is true from observations that many teachers waste this prime- time 1 to check on attendance or go around and check compliance or not to assignments.  Researches have shown that retention is high at the first 10 to 20 minutes of a 40 minute learning episode.  So, teachers should use this period to introduce new topics, because of the high retention in the memory of the students.  The next 10 minutes is down-time, or when the information is hardly processed because learners have lost their attention and focus.  As I have observed in a pre-school class (private school), the teacher very well used such down-time, to allow the kids to play on their own as a break.  In assignment 1, I have observed in an undergraduate class, that students start to talk to each other after a long wrap-up of the teacher at closure of the session.  My intuition is that they don’t find meaning to what was said because the teacher was summarising what have been discussed and thus bored the students. It is thus very important for teachers to use prime-time 2 to engage the students on reflections and maybe drawing up questions that lead to new concepts which can arouse interest for the next session.

I think that no matter how simple the  primary-recency concept is, it has critical impact on how learners effectively learn with the right scheduling of the activities inside the classrooms.  An excellent teacher on the content of the subject will be wasting enormous teaching effort and resources if these concepts are taken for granted.  After all, our primary concern as educators is the retention of knowledge that contributes to quality learning.

But, are school supervisors conscious of the primacy-recency effect when they do classroom supervision? This is a simple area of improvement that will have lasting impact on learning effectiveness, don’t you think so?

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