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Metacognition and Content Knowledge

Memory Strategies

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We use various different memory strategies in our everyday lives whether it be to remember a new phone number or to study for an exam. We have gathered a variety of different strategies throughout our years and when faced with a problem we are able to choose the best strategy for the job.


Memory Strategy #1: Rote Rehearsal
Rote Rehearsal is used when you try and remember something for a very short peroid of time. In order to remember this information you would repeat it over and over again in your mind or possibly out loud. You will only be able to remember such information for approximatley 30 seconds and this is only true if you do not incounter any interruptions. A good example of this is if your driving in your car, you are on your cell phone and are searching for a phone number so you dail 411. Once you hang up the phone you are continually repeating the number over in your head. All of a sudden the car behind you honks his horn at you, the number in your mind is erased unless you have put that number into your long term memory. So this memory strategy is not very benefical for storing a long term memory, for the fact that your can be so easily distracted and forget the information.   


Memory Strategy #2: Elaboration
Elaboration is a strategy which involves assigning meaningful information to something you are trying to remember, which in turn would make the non-meaningful information easier to remember. Using the example from the Charlie Brown comic strip, Charlie Brown remembers the numbers for his locker combination by giving the numbers meaning, baseball players numbers. Because he already knows the baseball players numbers automatically he is able to remember his combo by thinking of the players numbers. There are many ways to use the elaboration technique, you just have to add pre-exisinting information to a problem you are trying to remember. The other example we had used in our presentation was if you were trying to remember every object in a picture, such as the one we had shown in class, you could place certain objects into a specific room in your house. For example: "I remember there was something in that picture from an office or computer room...Oh yes I remember it was a mouse pad".   


Memory Strategy #3: Chunking
This form of memory strategy involves chunking large amounts of information together in order to organise such complex information into more manageable groups. For example, a phone number is often remembered and said in three seperate chunks such as 902-465-1234. Memorizing these three discrete chunks is more effective and easier than memorizing a series of 10 numbers, 9024651234. Think about your social security number or bank card number? Most likley you have chunked those numbers into three or four separate groups.


Memory Strategy #4: Thinking in Pictures, Colors and Shapes
Concrete images are more memorable than abstract ideas, and that is why pictures are such important instructional aids for your instructors and text authors. Associate your own mental pictures to the academic content. 
In your class and text notes use color to highlight headings and other key ideas. Use shapes to help you organize ideas; triangles, boxes, flow charts, circles. For example in our presentation we showed this picture, it would be beneficial for you to try and remember the objects that stood out, burn the photo into your memory.

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Memory Strategy #5:  Mnemonics

Mnemonic strategies are procedures we use to enhancing our memory. Their particular use is to developing better ways to take in (encode) information so that it will be much easier to remember (retrieve) later on. In developing mnemonic strategies individuals need to find a way to relate new information to pre-existing information. You can use different types of Mnemonics such as by using the beginning letters to remember a group of information. ‘Acronyms’ are most helpful when the first letters of a group of information can be used to create an entire word. An example of this type of mnemonics would be remembering the five classes of vertebrate animals, by remembering the word FARM-B. An individual who has studied the five classes can remember this larger group of information by remembering this smaller word, FARM-B, which means fish, amphibian, reptile, mammal, and birds. Other types of Mnemonics include making up rhymes and songs which will assist in remembering desired information.

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