Memory and Classroom Strategies

Posted by: Nesha Milicevic


The process of forming a memory involves encoding, storing, retaining and recalling information and past experiences. We use memory in our everyday lives and would not be able to function in the present or move forward without relying on our memory. Memory allows us to recall a huge amount of information that we have encountered.

The three main types are:

  1. Encoding – When we receive a piece of information, before we can store it the information needs to be changed into a familiar type so that the brain can process it. For example, when we see a written word may be stored if it is changed (encoded) into a sound or a meaning. The three main types of encoding are: visual (picture), acoustic (sound), and semantic (meaning). Visual and acoustic are associated with short-term memory, while semantic is associated with long-term memory. Classroom strategy – Students will perform better on exams when studying in silence, because exams are usually conducted in silence.
  2. Storage – This is the retention of information, and is said to be something that creates a permanent record over time. It is believed that there are three main areas of storage: sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory. The difference is that sensory memory is for one moment in time, short-term memory is stored very briefly, and long-term memory can last a lifetime. The way memory is stored affects the way we retrieve it. Classroom strategy – Advise Students to highlight and underline key terms when studying, or they can write down key words in the margin when they read a chapter. They will then be able to go back and read what is underlined, highlighted, or written in the margins. This will help them remember the information more easily.
  3. Retrieval – In order for the memory to be used after it has, it needs to be retrieved. Retrieval is the process of accessing a stored memory. This can be achieved by using a retrieval cue that prompts the memory to trigger the retrieval. Typically there are four basic types of retrieval: recall, recollection, recognition, and relearning. When a Student takes an exam, they need to be able to retrieve information in order to answer the questions on the exam. Classroom strategy – Practice test can be an extremely useful tool when reviewing information before exams. Teachers can provide Students with the tests or they can have Students make up the questions for everyone to answer, and then get them involved in group discussions.



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