Below is a list of memory or learning principles with a brief definition of each.
In order to remember something thoroughly, you must be interested in it. You must have a reason to learn it.
Think of some ways you might create interest in a class in which you are confused or bored:
(We tend to be uninterested in things we are not good at.)
...has much to do with whether you remember something or not. A key factor to remembering is having a positive attitude that you will remember.
How many times have you gone to class or read an assignment with something else on your mind?
When you employ the principle of intent to remember, you use concentration techniques that help you pay attention. You have the attitude that you will learn this now, not wait until later.
Your understanding of new materials depends to a great degree on how much you already know about the subject. The more you increase your basic knowledge, the easier it is to build new knowledge on this background.
You must determine what is most important and select those parts to study and learn.
The mind can absorb only a certain amount of new material at a time. You can't learn everything about everything. The solution, then, is to be selective. Choose what's important. Learn the important things and then build on that knowledge (basic background).
Here are some tips in choosing what's important.
Look for clues when reading a textbook assignment. Use a survey method before you begin. Look at headings, graphics, and bold print. Study the summary and review questions before and after you read.
You can learn and remember better if you can group ideas into some sort of meaningful categories or groups.
We usually remember only five to seven items as a time. Of course, we seldom take tests with that limited information.
The key is to organize larger blocks of information in ways that are meaningful to you. If you can organize 25 items into five groups of five you will find it much easier to manage.
Sometimes categories are obvious. Greek, Roman, Egyptian; nouns, verbs, adjectives; kingdom, phylum, class, order; or in the case of a grocery list, meats, vegetables, beverages.
Saying ideas aloud in your own words is probably the most powerful tool you have to transfer information from short-term to long-term memory.
Most of us learned the multiplication tables or practiced spelling words in elementary school reciting, but have forgotten just how powerful it can be.
Another powerful memory principle is making a mental picture of what needs to be remembered. By visualizing, you use an entirely different part of the brain than you did by reading or listening.
Most of us remember what we see much larger (and better) than what we read or hear.
We, therefore, need to make an effort to visualize everything we learn.
No matter how abstract, determine a way to visualize each new concept :
Memory is increased when facts to be learned are associated with something familiar to you.
By recalling something you already know and making a link to the "brain file" that contains that information, you should be able to remember new information more efficiently. Ask yourself:
How do you remember your PIN number? your telephone number? where you parked your car? your instructors name? the name of the person you just met?
You can probably see that the memory principles are interrelated. When you use the principle of association, you will probably want to use such principles as visualization, interest, meaningful organization and intent to remember in addition.
Your brain must have time for new information to soak in. When you make a list or review your notes right after class, you are using the principle of consolidation.
New information takes time to soak in. Most people agree that short term memory will only hold five to seven bits of information. We are usually bombarded with much more information than we can remember. We must, therefore, allow time for consolidation to take place. In fact, we must cause consolidation to take place.
A series of shorter study sessions distributed over several days is preferable to fewer but longer study sessions.
We tend to remember things at the beginning of a list or study session and things at the end. By using distributed practice, we can optimize our learning.
Let's suppose that you remember what you learned in the first twenty minutes you study and you remember what you learn in the last twenty minutes. Which would be more effective? You study four straight hours. You study four different sessions of 50 minutes each. Compute the amount you would likely learn using each method. Distributed practice allows time for things to consolidate and for you to build a basic background. It also uses what we know about the nature of short-term memory.
This is an easy principle with which to experiment and for you see the effects. Here are a few tips: