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Mnemonic devices benefit students

Help students improve memorization skills

University of Pennsylvania sophomore Mike Mirski, 19, of Naperville, Ill., pauses while speaking during an interview about his memory techniques, some of which are on the white board behind him, at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. Mirski is on the competitive memory team at the school.

AP Photo by Alex Brandon

University of Pennsylvania sophomore Mike Mirski, 19, of Naperville, Ill., pauses while speaking during an interview about his memory techniques, some of which are on the white board behind him, at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. Mirski is on the competitive memory team at the school.

Brandie Bosworth, Staff Writer

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Everyone has been there before; it’s the day of an exam and you look at the first question only to totally space out. You have flashbacks to your teacher repeating the material over and over again in class, but the answer does not come to you. The ticking of the clock becomes louder, the scribbling of your peers’ writing becomes more apparent, and you are freaking out. Luckily, there are several ways of preventing this scenario from becoming your reality.

People’s memory in general is awful; the average person only remembers seven plus or minus two things in their short term memory, according to Adam Berry, a member of the psychology faculty at PVCC. In order for information to stick, the information needs to be encoded into the short term memory and eventually, if it is important enough, into the long term memory. The key is to take the material you want to remember and create a way that you can relate to it, then encode it to your memory through practice.

“You can see or hear things a million times, but it is about what has meaning to you,” said Berry. “The more emotional attachment you have toward something, the stronger the memory of that thing will be.”

There are several different ways information can be organized in order to give it meaning to you, through the use of mnemonic devices. Mnemonic devices include techniques such as acronyms, chunking, mind maps and imagery. An example Berry uses is chunking, which involves grouping similar items together in order to remember the individual items. When you go to the grocery store, you probably already use chunking when you consider the items you need from different sections such as dairy, vegetables, frozen foods, etc. Another example he gives is mind maps, where you can imagine a map of any place and organize the information into that place. For instance, if you want to remember the number nine, you can visualize a cat inside of your map since cats have nine lives “Mnemonic devices are certainly a very effective way of learning, if you take the time to practice it,” said Berry.

 

 

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Mnemonic devices benefit students