On Memory – How Do We Make Memories?

“We often prefer making memories of things we want to remember in the future, but we should also make memories of things we need to remember for the future.”

Making memories, or the idea of remembering things, can mean a number of things to different people: Recognizing (e.g. Multiple Choice), Recalling (e.g. Short Answers), even Reconstructing (e.g. Essay Questions). Likewise, we have different theoretical models for studying and describing memory. At the undergraduate level, more details on these models are always available in your introductory psychology course, your 200-300 level course on cognition, attention, and memory, as well as upper division seminars.

Here are some of the more classic and historical models of memory out there:

Even though these models look quite old to many, they form the foundation of how we study and describe memory today (e.g. the Crash Course video above, your AP and post-secondary Psychology courses).

We also have theories on memory. For instance, here some more classics:

For adult educators, the study of memory is useful not only as a psychology or cognition course, but as a set of tools that help teach students to remember what they need for the future. Here are some examples, using each of the classic theories listed above:

  • Outlining notes and study guides into sizeable sections of 7±2
    e.g. In a 12-13 week course, we can split the weeks into 2 halves of 6 sections for students to review and remember.
  • Encourage students to review and connect each successive section weekly
    e.g. In the same course, we can get students to conduct a 15-20 review of the previous section with connection from what they’ve learn so far.
  • Showing students how to associate their studies with the place where place of study
    e.g. To help them remember what they’re studying, we can help students choose a memorable place to conduct their study which helps them visual better.
  • Helping students choose and apply appropriate mnemonic techniques in studying
    e.g. To encourage them in using creative ways of studying, we should allow students to choose and share effective ways to remember important and complex information.
  • Teaching students how to better organize what they’re learning and remembering
    e.g. We should also teach students how to group relevant and related information, concepts, and practices together, using outlines, notes, and the table of contents.

“Teaching students is one thing, and teaching them to remember another. The more they remember from what we’ve taught, the more we’ve taught them to remember.”

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