Studying to Fail: The Relationship Between Stress and Memory and the Implications for Students

  • Emma Garland Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Keywords: acute stress, memory, retrieval-induced forgetting, retrieval practice, retrieval-impairment


This paper reviews current literature on the topics of stress and memory, and examines their relationship while emphasizing potential implications for students. The discussion begins with the underlying processes of the stress response and the impact that has on memory, with a focus on stress-induced retrieval impairment. Retrieval-induced forgetting is discussed with consideration of findings by Koessler et al. (2009) that stress has an inhibitory effect on the process. Variables that influence susceptibility to memory impairment, namely low extraversion (Law et al., 2012) and low arousal level of material (Buchanan et al., 2006; Goldfarb et al., 2019), are considered alongside suggestions for better study practices. Research is explored that demonstrates the effectiveness of retrieval practice as a defence against stress-induced retrieval impairment, and students are advised of the benefits that utilizing this practice may bring (Smith et al., 2018; Smith et al., 2016).

Analytical Papers