Study Skills - Tips on Improving Your Memory (page 2)
Forgetting is a natural process, with the greatest losses occurring within the first 24 hours of learning. After one day you will forget 46% of what you read, 79% after 14 days, and 81% after 28 days. Clearly, it is essential to review readings and lecture notes within one or two days of initial exposure, with brief additional reviews interspersed in later weeks.•Your brain is like a storage vault, the problem is not that the information is not there, the problem is retrieving it when you need it. Following are some techniques that may help with that retrieval. Remember this is not a magic pill, you have to practice.
Pay Attention And Remember
- Which are you more likely to remember, the name of a coworker or your boss? We remember when we decide to remember and when we have a reason/motivation.
- Eliminate distractions while reading/studying.
- Develop a strong motivation; think of the reason why you want to learn this.
Analyze How To Remember Each Fact And Concept As You Encounter It
- Decide whether you will emphasize concepts, memory devices, visualization, or reciting.
- Relate new material to facts and concepts you already know.
- To memorize terminology, think about familiar parts of the words or study the Greek and Latin roots.
Interpret/Understand the Material
- To improve your long-term memory and to perform better on complex test questions, focus on understanding the basic ideas rather than simply memorizing isolated facts.
- Explain concepts to family members and study partners. This "teaching" will help you deepen your own understanding.
Organize the Material
- As you listen to a lecture or read, use "advanced organizers" obtained by prior knowledge or scanning to organize the new information. Just as an office worker needs a filing system, you need a mental filing system if you hope to comprehend and retrieve what you have learned.
- During review, organize your notes by writing questions or headings in the left margin. Create study charts to summarize your notes or text.
- The human brain appears to be able to hold only seven chunks of information in immediate memory, so breaking up material into categories will help you remember.
Visualize The Material
- Half of the brain thinks in words and the other half in pictures; use both parts of your brain.
- Study pictures, diagrams, and charts in your text and develop your own.
- Visualize information. For example, to remember the date of Lincoln's birth, visualize a log cabin with 1809 carved above the door.
Recite What You've Learned
Recite for these reasons: it increases your level of attention, it creates a stronger neural trace of memory by utilizing more senses, it provides immediate feedback for your studying and thereby increases your motivation. Researcher Arthur Gates found that regardless of the subject, the more time students spent reciting, the better they remembered.
- Recite as you read, as you review your class notes, and as you study.
- For material which you need to remember in some detail, reciting should take up 60%-80% of your study time (relative to reading).
Review Soon and In Small, Frequent "Doses"
While longer study sessions are effective for writing or for creative projects, most study is best done in short sessions with breaks (for example, study for 50 minutes and take a break for 10). Researcher A.M. Stone found that students who reviewed their lecture notes for just five minutes after class recalled one and a half times as much as students who didn't when tested six weeks later.
Use Memory Devices Such As Associations and Mnemonics
Mnemonics are most useful for memorizing terminology and lists of facts, rather than concepts. G.R. Miller conducted a study of mnemonic devices and found that students who used them raised their test scores (by 77% in one case).
- Use word mnemonics --such as 3Rs to remember the the pieces for staff inmate interaction: Role Model, Reinforce and Redirect.
- Use sentence mnemonics --such as "Kings play cards on fairly good soft velvet." to remember the biological classification system: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species, variety.
- Use mnemonics for spelling and for keeping terminology straight: A principal is a pal; a principle is a rule. Cyanates, I ate (harmless chemicals); cyanide, I died (poisonous chemicals).
- To improve memory, add humor as an element to your memory device.
Adapted from How to Study in College by Walter Pauk, Chapter 5.
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