Tips and Strategies to Help Improve Your Short- and Long-Term Memory
Karen L. Wold, M.S.Ed. Learning Disabilities Specialist
Topics Covered Memory 101 – Different Types of Memory Defined The memory process Short-term memory (STM) Working memory Long-term memory (LTM) Memory Strategies Rote memory (Repetition) Mnemonics Associative memory (Making associations) Memory Compensations (Alternatives, “Work Arounds”) Using reasoning skills to compensate Keep in mind learning styles/strengths (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, tactile) and effects of disability on memory Resources for More Information
Memory 101: Different Types of Memory Memory process = encoding+ storage (sensory, STM, LTM)
+ retrieval Encoding – taking information from our environment (very short term, not retained over the long term) Sensory storage – information we receive from our senses is interpreted by our brains, then only the information that we really pay attention to is transferred to STM Learning allows us to transfer information from our STM to our LTM Retrieval is the ability to recall information we have learned and memorized
Short-term Memory Information that comes to us through our senses Can only “hold” or retain for a few seconds Can only “hold” or retain a limited amount of
information (before other information “kicks it out”) Can only hold 5-9 bits of info (avg. of 7) at one time Example: phone number or name. Usually have to write it down to remember later. Reflection Question: Why is it so hard to remember the name of someone you just met?
Working Memory Working memory involves manipulating or changing
information that is in your memory For example, “mental math”, adding 123 + 45 in your head.
Long-term Memory Permanent and unlimited amount of storage of
information Actively learning information by using memory strategies enables the transfer of info from STM to LTM Recall what is in your LTM through a process called retrieval How well you can recall/retrieve information is directly connected to how well you stored the information in the first place (encoding and storage) Reflection Question: Why would a student who has studied for an exam for hours not be able to remember important facts or concepts for the exam?
Memory Strategies: Rote Memory (Repetition) Repeating information that you have received through
your senses again and again until you can remember it Examples: phone number, spelling of a word, exact definition Best with small amounts of information that have no meaningful connection; does not work well if you have to memorize large amounts of information Many students use this strategy and nothing else to memorize for every task, which is not always successful Can use this strategy to answer the “what” question
Memory Strategies: Mnemonic Devices Mnemonic devices are another rote memory technique Examples include: using the first letter of every item you need to remember to make a new word or phrase, a rhyme or song, or an acronym like DRES (Disability Resources and Educational Services) Useful for random information that has no meaningful way
of organization Like repetition, best to memorize smaller amounts of information. Somewhat overused strategy which is not very effective with a large amount of information to memorize. Do not over rely on rote memory techniques for memorizing everything.
Memory Strategies: Associative Memory More than repetition – thinking is involved! Using this strategy, you are more likely to remember
information over a longer period of time Good strategy when you have to memorize a lot of information Connect new information to something you already know Ask questions (especially “how” and “why”) Make associations between new and old information Examples: learning a new math formula, how does it relate to the one you learned last week?; why did Jane Addams start Hull House (what was happening in the society at the time)?
Memory Compensations: Alternatives, “Work Arounds” Use reasoning skills. Some students have stronger
reasoning (verbal, nonverbal or both) than short and/or long term memory. These students will benefit by understanding the “why” of a process, procedure, event, etc. so that they can “reason out” a correct answer on an exam if they cannot easily memorize the correct answer. Keep in mind learning style or learning strengths when memorizing information. For example, if you are stronger visually, you will remember information better if you organize it into some sort of visual format like a chart or diagram. If you are an auditory learner, you will do better with speaking out loud what you need to memorize. Kinesthetic learners tend to learn better if they move while learning (walking while studying/reviewing).
Memory Compensations: Alternatives, “Work Arounds” (cont.) Keep in mind the effect(s) your disability has on your
ability to use short-term, working or long-term memory. For example, students with learning disabilities may have information processing problems which include short- or long-term memory, or both and students with depression, that may affect their memory, may take a longer time to process information. “Work Arounds” may include memorizing at the students’ best time of the day, memorizing small bits of information at a time and/or reviewing frequently.
Resources for More Information College Reading and Study Skills, Kathleen T. McWhorter,
2001, 8th edition. *Please note, there are more recent editions of this text. http://www.muskingum.edu/~cal/database/general/memo ry1.html The Muskingum College database has a wealth of study skills information, including course-specific study strategies. This link is specifically for memory strategies. For students registered with DRES, Karen Wold, Learning Disabilities Specialist at DRES is available for assistance with your particular memorization or study skills needs. She can be reached at [email protected]