We get it. You don’t like text practice.
There are good reasons for why ALL court reporting students should spend time working on it, though. It is more difficult than listening to dictation, and there’s a reason for that too.
First, think back to the last time that you spaced out when your mom or significant other was talking to you. They might have asked you something like, “Are you even listening to me? What did I just say?” And even though you were completely disengaged from the conversation, you were able to flawlessly repeat their last sentence.
Now take a quick glance around you. Think about how much information you just absorbed visually. Can you remember every detail of what you just saw? Those of us who do not have a photographic memory probably have a difficult time holding onto that visual information for very long.
Lastly, I want you to think about all the different ways that you can experience something through your senses: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and feeling. For example, you can experience soda through all of these. You can see the liquid and hear the fizz. You can catch its faint smell as you touch it to your lips and finally taste it. You are experiencing this one thing but delivering the experience to your brain in a variety of ways.
What does all this have to do with your court reporting education? Processing information through various stages of memory allows the learning process to work, and developing your machine shorthand skill is no different. In 1968, psychologists Atkinson and Shriffin proposed a model for information processing. This model has three stages of memory: sensory memory, short-term memory (STM), and long-term memory (LTM). For court reporters and court reporting students, the goal is not to move information to the second or third stage, but to extract information from the first stage and get it down on paper.
Obviously, court reporters cannot develop their skill through smell or taste. They are left with touch, sight, and sound. Touch comes into play as you transfer words to the machine. Let’s just focus on how those words first come into your sensory memory.
This earliest stage of memory holds information for a very brief period of time. Auditory information is stored for approximately three to four seconds while visual information is stored for no longer than half of a second. Court reporters and court reporting students experience the benefits of comparatively lengthy auditory memory all the time—something you might refer to as trailing. As you’re listening to dictation, you are able to fall a little bit behind the speaker and keep their last sentence in your mind. Fortunately, this grants you a few precious seconds to catch up to the dictation. This is great for getting every word, but this allows too much time for hesitation.
Text practice is difficult because there is no time for hesitation. The chunks of text come and go at the same rate of speed as spoken word, but you are not able to remember the text for the same length of time. This forces your brain to translate the information to your fingers almost instantaneously, which is a reporter’s ultimate goal. This takes practice and almost certain frustration, but training your mind through text practice WILL make you a faster writer.
The catch is that you need to practice using both of these senses in order to reach your goal. You MUST deliver the experience of writing on your machine to your brain in as many ways as possible. This keeps your theory in your long-term memory and allows you to access that information more quickly. “The amount of time information spent or rehearsed in STM determines whether (and how well) it is stored in LTM” (Shultz, EDPS 220). As you know, you will eventually be able to recall your theory on an unconscious level.
Spend time stretching your court reporting brains in different ways. Balance your time-management plan so that you are practicing audio AND text. Don’t cram all of your practice in one day. “Information processed over time is more likely to be remembered than information that is mass-practiced” (Shultz, EDPS 220). This method of distributed and varied practice helps students solidify knowledge and skill in their minds.
The psychology of learning is fascinating. As students, I believe that it is important that we understand how we can become better learners. The faculty at CCR knows how difficult it is to sit down and really work on text practice, but we want to assure you that it is going to benefit you. Hopefully, you will take this rationale and apply it to your practice plans.
Good luck and happy speedbuilding!
Shultz, Geoff. EDPS 220, Psychology
of Learning. Purdue University