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Chapter 8
Course Syllabus
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 4

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Chapter 8

Improving Your Memory





It’s hard to focus on anything very long if your life is full of distractions and competing responsibilities or if you’re not getting enough sleep. (How much is enough sleep?  7 to 8 hours nightly.  Do you get this much?)


This makes it easy to blame a poor memory on the way we live.  But obviously, to do well in college - and in life - it’s important that you improve your ability to remember.


As one writer has said, “there is no learning without memory.”  On the other hand, not all memory involves real learning. 




If you know the date the Civil War began and the Fort where the first shots were fired, but you don’t know why the War was fought, you’re missing the point of the War.   College is about knowing the cause and effect of an issue.


So don’t forget that while recall of specific facts is certainly necessary, it isn’t sufficient to demonstrate deep learning.


Deep Learning involves understanding the “Why” and “How” behind the details.




In your text, Kenneth Higbee (1988) describes two different types of memory, Short-term memory and Long term-memory.  (Alzheimer’s effect which?) 


Short term memory is where information is initially stored, however, its important to note that information stored in short term memory is forgotten in less than thirty seconds (and sometime much faster) unless you take action to either keep that information in short term memory or move it to long term memory.


Although short-term memory is limited, it has a number of uses.  It serves as an immediate but temporary holding tank for information.  It helps you to maintain reasonable attention so that you can keep track of topics as you converse.  It also enables you to stay on task with goals you are pursuing at any moment.


But even the simplest functions of short-term memory fail on occasion.  If the telephone rings, if someone ask you a question, if you’re interrupted in any way, you may find that your attention suffers and that you essentially have to start over in reconstructing short-term memory.  (I’m sure you have had the experience of having to say “Now Where were we” or if you didn’t get to say something in a conversation when it was on your mind, you completely forget what you wanted to say in the first place).


Long-term memory is the type of memory that you will need to improve in order to remember what you’re learning in college.  It can be described in three ways: 


Procedural (remembering how to do something such as solving a mathematical problem or playing a musical instrument)

Semantic (remembering facts and meanings without remembering where and when you learned those things)

Episodic (remembering particular events, their time and place)





You are using procedural memory when you get on a bicycle you haven’t ridden in years, or when you recall the first piece you learned to play on the piano. 


Your semantic memory is used continuously to recall word meanings or important dates, such as your mother or father’s birthday.


Episodic memory allows you to remember events in which you were involved: a vacation, your first day in school, when you first learn to drive a car.




Kenneth Higbee suggests that there are myths about memory that you may have heard or may even believe yourself.  What are some of these Myths?


  • Some people are stuck with bad memories (WRONG) There are some differences among people in innate memory, however, what really gives you the edge over someone else is your learned memory skills.  Virtually anyone can improve the ability to remember and recall.
  • Some people have photographic memories (WRONG) Most research has found that people with truly exceptional memories often have this ability as a result of learned memory strategies, interest, and practice rather than innate ability.
  • Remembering too much can clutter your mind (WRONG) The storage capacity of your memory is unlimited.  In fact, the more you learn about a particular topic, the easier it is to learn even more.
  • People us only about 10 percent of their brainpower (No scientific research is available to measure accurately how much of our brain we actually use.  However, most psychologists and learning specialists believe that we all have far more mental ability than we actually tap.






Human has discovered ingenious ways to remember information.  In your

Text the authors listed a number of methods for assisting you in remembering, some so obvious that I don’ understand why they were even listed ((such as “pay attention to what you are hearing”).


Other Strategies that does seem to Aid in Memory:


  • Don’ rely on studying just once before an exam  (that’s cramming)


  • Study in groups (group members can test each other and challenge each others interpretation of the material).


  • Avoid pre-exam all-nighters (again this is cramming and the deprivation of sleep may be more detrimental to memory than not studying at all).


  • Say it over and over (probably the most time tested memory technique is reciting whatever you’re trying to remember over and over out loud).


        Reduce stressor in your life (Although there’s no way to determine how much worry or stress causes you to forget, most people will agree that stress can be a distraction).





Mnemonics = Unusual and somewhat artificial strategies for remembering information.  Mnemonics fall into four basic categories:


(a)       Acronyms or new words created from beginning letters of several words.  The Great Lakes can be more easily recalled by remembering the word HOMES for Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior.

(b)      Acrostics An acrostic is a verse in which certain letters of each word or line form a message.  Many music students were taught the scales by remembering “Every Good Boy Does Fine” – E,G,B, D, F.

(c)       Rhymes that can be said or sung.  Do you remember learning “thirty days hath September, April, June, and November?  All the rest have thirty-one, except February alone.  It has twenty-eight days time, but in leap years it has twenty-nine”?  You were using a mnemonic rhyming technique to remember the days in each month.

(d)      Visual methods you use visualization to associate words or concepts or stories with visual images.  The more ridiculous the image, the more likely you are to remember it.




PDA’S (personal digital assistant), a computer calendar, or a watch that beeps when you have an appointment is just a few of the devices that can help you remember.  But there may be a danger to becoming too dependent on technology and losing trust in your memory.  (Use it or loose it concept)


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