Memorization Techniques to Help Your Students
Memory is a tricky thing. We don’t remember things we know are important, but rather those we feel are important. Thus, for young people with their frontal cortex still underdeveloped, memorization techniques are essential for school.
Even for older learners over the age of 21, such techniques can improve what we retain instinctively. This can create a vast array of usable knowledge and information that we can remember in an instant.
There are three major merits to practicing at least one memorization technique:
- Makes learning easier
- Improves association and intelligence utilization
- More fun in a group
Additionally, when done as a part of a group exercise, memory techniques improve in effectiveness several-fold as students receive several types of input for the same piece of data.
How Does Memory Work?
Honestly? Nobody knows. Ironically, even though so many brains in the world work on figuring out exactly how brains work, we still only have a general idea.
But some processes can be distinguished. For instance, three distinct flairs happen inside the brain when forming a memory:
Only the second step is generally a mystery and every person has different facts and sensory impulses that will be consolidated into memory.
What we know for certain is that the more you use a neural pathway, the road leading to any memory, the stronger that connection is. Similarly, the more some memory is connected with another one the easier it would be to retrieve it.
Why Are Memorization Techniques Important?
Education might be important during your lifetime. But if you are in high school, it could be challenging to understand how learning about brain activity might be beneficial for finding a prom date.
Most of the information we are fed as kids only becomes important later in life. And this is why it is often difficult to remember anything that came from the teacher's mouth, let alone from the textbook.
But you might notice that you can remember lyrics to your favorite songs easily and could recite them any time of day. This is because the lyrics have meaning and emotional backing from us, and they are repeated multiple times.
The goal of memorization techniques is to attribute the same feelings to the information we need to retain for academic purposes. With that, we can use a technique where enthusiasm fails and be able to learn even when the subject is dry and uninviting.
Seeing What Sticks
Every person is different and every student has a different mixture when it comes to types of intelligence. What may be a godsend for one student might be useless for another.
When using memory techniques, it is important not to fixate on a single solution. Ideally, you would want everyone to practice multiple tricks and end up with a mixture that is just their own.
If a technique works, stick with it and imagine how you might improve it. But if you don’t see any improvement in memory retrieval simply ditch it and use something else.
If something is not working, that doesn't mean it's a deficiency of the brain. Rather, your neural pathways form differently and you need to try another approach. Some get it on the first try while others find their ideal solution only after a bit of trial and error.
#1 Acronyms and Mnemonics
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Acronyms and mnemonics are the best way to remember a single piece of information. Further, they can be used to access and retrieve larger pieces that are connected with that information.
Making a fun acronym will make you associate that joke with data, and thus make the data easier to retrieve.
Unlike acronyms, which use a single word to describe a wider sentence, a mnemonic uses a sentence to describe a word or a row of letters. It is especially handy in biology and chemistry where a lot of information needs to be retained using a somewhat complex language.
Different types of intelligence retain information differently. For some, using visual representations is much easier than consolidating memory from the text.
Even when it comes to abstracts, you should try to visualize any type of information you need and to imagine how it would look like. For instance, it is much easier to remember erythrocytes, red blood cells, if you can imagine little double-concave candies running through your veins.
This is also applicable for learning abstract constructs. But in a case where there is no established visual representation of a fact, you will need to assign it a personal value. Remember a visual association and you will have an easier time remembering the thing you need.
#3 Assigning Meaning
Similar to how visualization assists those with visual intelligence, assigning meaning helps those with emotional/kinesthetic learning abilities. Assigning an emotion or deeper personal feeling will make something stick.
If you are mindful of how you feel about a fact or piece of information, you can use that feeling to retrieve the data when you need it.
Additionally, you can use interesting trivial information to make something more interesting. For instance, knowing that the star(s) Castor in the Gemini constellation is not one, but six stars organized in three orbiting pairs makes it easier to find it in the sky because it seems so bright to us.
#4 Learn Inwards
A good method to learn in general, but also a solid memorization technique is to learn the basics of everything you need first and then go in-depth once you have more information to connect it with.
This is exactly what we expect to happen during primary education, where children will get the general gist of everything only to be explained further later. This way, you will always have a solid thread to pull on once you need it.
For instance, for remembering atomic numbers you don't need to know the periodic table by heart. Rather, you can remember how the electron power levels full and then extrapolate. For oxygen, you know that H2O is stable, so it needs two, ending up with 8.
Repetitio est Mater Studiorum
Repetition is the mother of learning, said the Romans, and is as true today as it was two millennia ago.
All memorization techniques actually work to make repetition easier for the student. But even the best technique won't work without repetition. Without giving enough strength to our neural pathways, they will quickly deteriorate and we will forget what we knew.
By far, the best technique is to slowly and consciously go over the material several times. And if we do use visualization and assign meaning and acronyms, we will make everything go faster.
The more you do it, the easier it will become.
Our minds are fickle things. We like having fun and experiencing excitement and don't like leaning over a textbook for hours at a time.
Thankfully, these memorization techniques can make everything easier. By using some, or multiple, we can make memorization faster and be able to retrieve information faster.
Still, the best way to remember is to repeat, and the only way to remember something is to experience it multiple times in multiple ways.