“Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci
Learning and memory are closely related concepts. Learning is the acquisition of skill or knowledge, while memory is the expression of what you’ve acquired. Another difference is the speed with which the two things happen. If you acquire the new skill or knowledge slowly and laboriously, that’s learning. If acquisition occurs instantly, that’s making a memory. (Adapted from the Encyclopedia of Psychology - https://www.apa.org/pubs/books/4600100). Success is achieved if you adopt the 5Cs.
Make your studying active by using study methods, writing, drawing, summarizing, chanting or teaching your study buddy.
- Concentrate fully and try not to allow your mind to wander. This improves with practice.
- Use graphic organizers for notes.
- Avoid last-minute cramming.
Mentally prepare to study (RAVES)
- Use Relaxation techniques to calm your mind.
- Arrange goals and priorities for each study block.
- Visualize yourself capable of full concentration.
- Emotional words for success: effort, enthusiasm, energy, eagerness, perseverance.
- Use positive Self-talk for a positive attitude.
- Be selective when you study. Select significant information. You cannot learn every detail. Make your own notes, focusing on what is most important.
- Associate new information with what you already know.
- Visualise. Try to create “stories” or “movies” in your mind.
- Recite. Use your own words. Explain the information to a friend/family member. Go back and check for accuracy and additional details.
Memorising skills can be learned
There are many different skills you can learn to help you remember information. Here are some examples:
- Mind maps
- Cartoons, pictures, labelling
- Rhymes and jingles – use words that rhyme to help you remember important facts
- Loci strategy - Association with the place. Helps you remember a list of items
- Word association, key words, flash cards
- Creating acronyms: e.g. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression and e levation (what to do when somebody has a sprained ankle)
- Grouping or categorising – organise the information into logical clusters
Memory - Use it or lose it!
Memory strategies require practice and discipline. To read more about the topic visit The Role Of Memory In Learning: How Important Is It? and Memory at Work in the Classroom.
Pay attention and listen carefully in class.
- Make sure you understand the content and concepts. If not, ask your teacher.
Make effective notes.
- In order for information to be stored in long-term memory, it first needs to pass through your short-term or working memory. This stage of memory is limited in the amount of information it can retain. Information you receive in class must be written down or you will forget it.
- When revising from your textbooks, seek out the important information and write it down. Organize it logically. Reduce it to key terms or a form that is easy to remember.
Remember these three R's:
- Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
- Mnemonics are devices, using arbitrary, easy-to-remember associations, to help you remember information. Examples:
- sohcahtoa (used in trigonometry to memorize important information about the sine, cosine, and tangent)
- roygbiv (the colours of the rainbow in their correct order – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet)
- A very effective way of checking your own understanding is to generate examples of related concepts, situations, relationships, events or case studies. If you cannot do this, it is likely that you do not fully understand this aspect of the syllabus. Ask your teacher for help.
Use visual imagery.
- Visualisation of a concept, situation, relationship or sequence of events can be a very powerful way to learn. Create stories or movies in your mind, or make your own drawings, stick figures or cartoons.
- Make connections between the new information and something familiar to you.
Use rehearsal strategies.
- Practise retrieving information by reciting key ideas, predicting questions, practising problem-solving and testing yourself by using previous exam papers.