Learning and mnemonics are a powerful way to learn large amounts of information, but not very widely used in education today. The techniques can be different depending on the situation, having of course the intention to encode the information, i.e. transferring it from the short-term memory to the long-term memory, but also data recovery techniques whenever needed.

Improving memory through learning and mnemonics involves metamemory, namely introspective knowledge of one’s own memory capacities (and strategies that can help memory), as well as the processes involved in memory self-monitoring.

Some of the learning and mnemonic techniques refer to categorical organization, interactive images, rhymes, the method of coordinates (Loci) or acronyms, acrostics or key words. People use a number of strategies to improve memory, either retrospective or prospective. In this sense, we make lists, organize our activities in the calendar and set alarms to remind us, or ask someone to remind us, and research has proven that repeating the same thing for a certain period of time does not improve prospective memory.

To better illustrate the power of learning and mnemonics, we will take for example learning the reverse alphabet: Z Y X W V U T S R Q P O N M L K J I H G F E D C B A. This approach seems daunting at first, and with little chance of immediate results.

1. A first technique would be that of grouping (chunking), namely grouping several letters into more manageable pieces, say, 3 to 4 letters. It is not different the way we eat, for example, we cut the steak into smaller pieces before eating, as if we tried to swallow it whole it could be fatal. Or how phone numbers – especially those with area codes – are shared together. The reverse alphabet chunking would look like this:

 ZYXW  VUTS  RQP  ONM  LKJ  IHG  FED  CBA

2. A second technique would be through the use of graphics. It is said that a picture paints a thousand words. The human mind thinks in images to be able to process them more easily. In the case of the alphabet, graphics would work by associating each letter with an image in our mind. For example, starting from the end, we might associate the letter Z with a zebra playing an electric guitar. The more special, crazy, daring the images, the easier the memorization.

Some other useful techniques refer to:

1. Learning passwords, very useful in the digital age through the acronym technique. We can use mnemonics to assign passwords that are very difficult for hackers but very easy to understand and remember for us. For example we can think of key sentences and use the first letters of each word as a mnemonic for our password:

• I love my wife very much = ILMWVM

• My dog’s name is Ursu = MDNIU

2. Idea Mapping: This learning technique, also known as mind mapping, is a creative thinking or outlining method of putting ideas on paper. Compared to simple or linear outlining, ideas can flow back and forth, branching out, allowing ideas to be connected to other ideas that didn’t seem obvious or immediate at first. Mind maps also have a visual and spatial advantage, making it possible to see the overview and collect the main ideas in a single image. There are many types of idea maps, but two stand out among the most common and popular: Cloud-Circle-Flowchart (CCF) and Tree Branch(TB).

3. Another method of memorization that I use a lot is survey or sketching to scale or general view. In fact, I call it the skeleton of a material and add keywords here to remind me of the basic structure. Practically in this first step, we read the material by simply scanning it to get a general overview. This step is also called skimming or scanning. The reason behind this first step is that our minds prefer to see a bigger picture where they can then fit the individual parts together (see the structure, skeleton or general direction first) to then add the musculature, nerves, etc.

Having insight into the sequence, arrangement and structure of the reading materials gives us the opportunity to create a mental framework from which we can build our learning around.

There are multiple learning and mnemonics techniques that respond to a frequent need, especially among students, to adopt such strategies and methods and improve their academic performance. Currently we use about 10% of the brain’s memory, the rest being “asleep”, and the more we activate our imagination to solve the memory problem, the better we will succeed in making the use of even the 10% known to science today more efficient.

Bibliography:

Greene A., (2015), Accelerated Learning, Memory Improvement, Studying, Learning Techniques, Brain Training Learning, London: PDF Drive

Horsley K., (2013), Unlimited Memory How to Use Advanced Learning Strategies to Learn Faster, Remember More and be More Productive, Indiana: TCK Publishing

Pierce S., (2018), How To Improve Memory – The Ultimate Mind Power Manual, USA: The Success Sculpting Coach



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Camelia Krupp

Master Certified Coach & Therapist

Building future globally! I am fascinated by human beings and their psychology and dedicate my life to bettering their capabilities and those of the organizations they are in. The first step starts with you and if I can support and empower you to take one step further in your growth, then my mission as a coach is fulfilled. Building self every day is the single meaning of life!

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