A Christian College of the Liberal Arts & Sciences

Memory & Concentration

Do you remember where you were March 15, 1995?  If this date is not your birthday or some other significant date, it is very likely that you do not remember where you were.  If I were to give you some clues or a choice between two or ore places, you might have less difficulty remembering.

Human memory has been compared to a filing cabinet.  You have drawers of information (e.g. History) and you have files within each drawer (e.g. dates).  If you file in a n organized manner, it follows that you will retrieve easily when requested (e.g. test-taking).  There are several principles that you can use as tools to help you improve your memory.  Learning is impossible without memorizing facts and details.  However, memorizing is just the first step in the learning process (See the Learning Pyramid).

Interest:

  •  You must have an interest in something in order to remember it.  Take classes you have a natural curiosity about, and for those Integrative Studies Requirements that may hold little interest for you, work extra hard to find ways to make the subject interesting.  Consider working with a study group.

Intention:

  • You have to plan to remember.  Have a positive attitude and use active techniques.

Selectivity:

  •  Discover the most important pieces of information, you cannot remember everything.

Organization:

  •  Group ideas into categories.  Learn techniques such as concept mapping to increase retention and retrieval.

Visualization:

  • Make a mental picture of what needs to be learned.  Utilize mnemonic devised such as HOMES for the Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior).  Visual memory is a powerful tool that can be put to great use.

Recitation:

  •  Memory research has proven we retain more information for a much longer period of time if we recite it in our own words over a spaced period of time.  Information crammed in to 8 consecutive hours is not retained nearly as long as the same information recited over 8 separate days.

Association:

  •  Can you relate the new information to something you already know and understand? If so, you will find your memory increases.

Reflection:

  •  You must allow time for new information to soak into your brain.  Make a list or review your notes before returning to class the next time, this will allow time for reflection, helping you consolidate ideas in long term memory for later retrieval.

Layer your Learning:

  • Don’t forget, while working one week’s assignments, to continue to review and practice information given throughout the semester.  Use it or lose it!!!  Make studying for finals much easier by working with the information throughout the term, not just the week of testing.