Educational Psychology: Which methods can a learner put in place in order to improve his memory?



3a iv. Analyze the different ways learners can employ to improve their memory.

Improving Memory

In this section, I have discussed a few methods that learners can use in order to improve their memory.

  • Increasing attention

As we have noted above attention refers to focusing on information and registering it, isolating it from all possible distracters. This is an important prerequisite for all memory. With this in mind, it is important to think how one can increase attention.

  1. Selecting a study environment, which does not contain too many distractions, can increase attention. Distractions will refer to unnecessary noise, heat, cold activities and things that appeal to sight or hearing.
  2. They refer to any environmental event, which interferes with taking in of information. If learners are studying in a classroom or in a laboratory there should be minimal distractions.
  • Rehearsal

Rehearsal refers to the repetition of what has been learned in the school setting. It may refer to what is commonly referred to as study. As learners conduct their study it is important to ensure that they engage in repetition of correct responses with the awareness what the responses relate to. They should not engage in repetition of meaningless material. For the study to be successful, the teachers should ensure that:

  • The school organize study timetables
  • Give the learners the time and classrooms convenient for the purpose
  • They should train learners how to conduct individual study, for example, how to pick out important facts, review them immediately and again later
  • Learners should be trained how to engage in distributed practice or massed practice depending on reasons for study.

Distributed practice involves taking short periods of study at a time and taking a break after each period. This method is very beneficial when the learners want to process information and store it in memory permanently. The short periods of study could be taking two hours of study at a time and then breaking to do a totally unrelated activity before resuming the study again. The unrelated activity could be taking a shower, a walk, a snack or even a nap. This activity should be one that helps one to relax as well as reward oneself.

Massed practice refers to sitting for long hours of study

  1. The learner can be introduced to the model of study developed by Robinson (1970) called SQ3R. This refers to the following:
  2. Survey the material through once.
  3. Raise questions about it
  4. Read it looking for answers
  5. Recite it and by doing so committing it to memory
  6. Review it
  7. By the time the learner is through with the last step the material is well committed to memory.
  • The use of mnemonic devices

Mnemonic Devices are techniques that have been developed to improve memory- particularly memory for bits of unrelated information.

One mnemonic devise is the peg word method. To use this method you must first learn a series of words to go with numbers, for example, one is bun, two is shoe, three is tree and four is door. The words and numbers rhyme. When you want to learn a list of unrelated words you think of some image that combines the peg word and the word you are trying to remember. Let us imagine that you wish to remember a grocery list, if the fist item on the list is soap you imagine a bun covered with soap bubbles. If the second item is apples you picture a shoe stuffed with apples. If the third item is Eggs, you imagine a tree with eggs for fruits. If the fourth item is Cabbage, you imagine a door with a large cabbage as the lock knob.

The Loci method

Another technique is the loci method, pronounced Losi. This was a method used by ancient Romans as old as 86 and 82 BC. First you think of a location. Then for each item you want to remember you think of a representative image something that symbolizes that item to you then you imagine each image in place in the location e.g.

Bedroom floor————————-soap bubbles

Your bed——————————–two large apples Your dressing table———————filled with eggs

Your coffee table———————-two huge carrots

The clothes wardrobe—————-cabbage hanging there

These techniques use imagery, which is a representation in thought of visual scenes forming a vivid, unusual image of each object, which is unforgettable.


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