Memorization (a.k.a information recall) is an essential building block to comprehending or applying larger concepts taught in your courses. However, because memorization does not require deep cognitive ability it is often presented in high volume which can feel overwhelming. When facing information loads of this size it can help to find alternative memorization strategies to maximize your study time and free up mental space to learn those other larger concepts.
Check out our visual resource for Memorization Maximization below!
Use abbreviations to transform a long title (ex. name of organizations/programs, pathologies) into a shorthand title that is easily remembered. Abbreviations condense the information for recall into a manner which you can reproduce quickly, allowing more room to remember other information. Typically, an abbreviation is either the first letters of a series of words or a few letters of a single word.
NLPNP = Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Nominee Program.
CHF = congestive heart failure
Use acronyms to transform multiple interconnected facts into one pronounceable word. Acronyms are especially helpful when information must be remembered in a very specific sequence. This is because the acronym won’t work if a letter is missing or misplaced.
S.M.A.R.T Goals = Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely goals.
Acrostics are very similar to acronyms, except instead now you transform multiple interconnected facts into one fun phrase. Again, this is especially helpful when information must be remembered in a very specific sequence because the acrostic phrase won’t sound right when a word is missing or misplaced.
“No Plan Like Yours To Study History Wisely” = Norman, Plantagenet, Lancaster, York, Tudor, Stuart, Hanover, Windsor [ the chronological order of English powers].
Rhymes & Lyrics
Rhymes and lyrics maximize your brain’s ability to use acoustic encoding and have more parts of your brain working together to remember information for you. If you are new to these, start with simple rhymes that you can hum along to. Luckily, there are often many students who have used this tactic themselves and a quick search online will help uncover already created songs (just make sure to fact check!).
“Leaves of three? Leave it be!” = common rhyme to identify poison ivy.
Use yourself and physical movement to boost memory links for your brain. These actions help give your brain multiple ways to recall information later by having multiple ways the information has been stored into its short term memory. Hand gestures alone have been found to create significant links.
When trying to remember the sections of the spinal cord, make a hand gesture of “c” at your neck (cervical), hand gesture of T at your chest (thoracic), hand gesture of “L” at your lower back (lumbar), and hand gestures for S at your hip (sacral).
By making hand gestures at the location you are recalling you are creating the connection of the spinal cord section to the first letter, that first letter is connected to a hand gesture, and the hand gesture is occurring by the spinal section being referenced. Looping it all together!
Have a study space that you can talk out loud in? We challenge you to try and integrate two or more memorization techniques at once to maximize engaging as many parts of your brain as possible. Recite out loud an acrostic as you make hand gestures. Study in motion with a classmate, while walking together recite acronyms and rhymes together.
Memorization Maximization [Visual Resources]
Have a thousand facts you need to remember for your course? Reading and re-reading isn't the right strategy for everybody. If you missed the ASC's WebEx session for memorization maximization techniques that help increase recall in enjoyable ways, feel free to use our resource below:
Looking for more strategies and tips?
Check out MUN's Academic Success Centre online!
Cook, S. W., Yip, T. K., & Goldin-Meadow, S. (2010). Gesturing makes memories that last. Journal of memory and language, 63(4), 465-475. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3124384/
Newnham, A. L., Hine, C., Rogers, C., & Agwu, J. C. (2015). Improving the quality of documentation of paediatric post-take ward rounds: The impact of an acrostic. Postgraduate Medical Journal, 91(1071), 22-25. https://pmj.bmj.com/content/postgradmedj/91/1071/22.full.pdf
Radovic, T., & Manzey, D. (2019). The impact of a mnemonic acronym on learning and performing a procedural task and its resilience toward interruptions. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 2522. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6851171/
Sankey, M., Birch, D., & Gardiner, M. (2010). Engaging students through multimodal learning environments: The journey continues. In Proceedings ASCILITE 2010: 27th Annual Conference of the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education: Curriculum, technology and transformation for an unknown future (pp. 852-863). University of Queensland. https://www.ascilite.org/conferences/sydney10/procs/Sankey-full.pdf