Improving Memory


Buddhi Maharjan 👤 4 Memory / Page 4.15 Improving Memory On this page: 1 of 1 attempted (100%) | 1 of 1 correct (100%)

Improving Memory

How can you use memory research findings to do better in this and other courses?

Biology’s findings benefit medicine. Botany’s findings benefit agriculture. So, too, can psychology’s research on memory benefit education. Here, for easy reference, is a summary of some research-based suggestions that could help you remember information when you need it. The SQ3R—Survey, Question, Read, Retrieve, Review— study technique used in this webtext incorporates several of these strategies:

The point to remember New memories are weak; exercise them and they will strengthen.

Rehearse repeatedly. To master material, use distributed (spaced) practice. To learn a concept, give yourself many separate study sessions. Take advantage of life’s little intervals—riding a bus, walking across campus, waiting for class to start. New memories are weak; exercise them and they will strengthen. To memorize specific facts or figures, Thomas Landauer (2001) has advised, “Rehearse the name or number you are trying to memorize, wait a few seconds, rehearse again, wait a little longer, rehearse again, then wait longer still and rehearse yet again. The waits should be as long as possible without losing the information.” Reading complex material with minimal rehearsal yields little retention. Rehearsal and critical reflection help more. It pays to study actively.

Make the material meaningful. You can build a network of retrieval cues by taking text and class notes in your own words. Apply the concepts to your own life. Form images. Understand and organize information. Relate the material to what you already know or have experienced. As William James (1890) suggested, “Knit each new thing on to some acquisition already there.” Restate concepts in your own words. Mindlessly repeating someone else’s words won’t supply many retrieval cues. On an exam, you may find yourself stuck when a question uses phrasing different from the words you memorized.

Activate retrieval cues. Mentally re-create the situation and the mood in which your original learning occurred. Jog your memory by allowing one thought to cue the next.

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Use mnemonic devices. Associate items with peg words. Make up a story that incorporates vivid images of the items. Chunk information into acronyms. Create rhythmic rhymes (“i before e, except after c”).

Minimize interference. Study before sleep. Do not schedule back-to-back study times for topics that are likely to interfere with each other, such as Spanish and French.

Sleep more. During sleep, the brain reorganizes and consolidates information for long-term memory. Sleep deprivation disrupts this process.

Test your own knowledge, both to rehearse it and to find out what you don’t yet know. Don’t be lulled into overconfidence by your ability to recognize information. Test your recall using the multiple-choice questions found on each page. Outline sections on a blank page. Define the terms and concepts found in the material before looking up their definitions. Take practice tests; the websites and study guides that accompany many texts are a good source for such tests.

Multiple-Choice Question

Which of the following is the BEST way to master material for a given test?

reread the text listen to the audio book frequently test yourself in the weeks before only read the text the night before the test

Correct. The best way to really remember material is to study and actively rehearse it in multiple, short study sessions that are spaced out, rather than clumping all of your studying into one giant marathon. The latter may seem more productive and effective, but it isn’t.

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