Memory Improvement strategies are split into two main groups which are organisation and mnemonics.

Organisation - this is when you categorise things into groups to aid memory recall. One method of organisation could be to construct a mind map.

Research showing that organisation aids memory recall…

  • Shuell - two groups of participants were presented with a list of words. For one group the words were in a random order, whereas for the other group they were arranged under categories. After looking at the list, paticipants were asked to recall as many words as they could remember.
  • Participants who had the organised lists recalled significantly more words than participants who had random lists.
  • Mandler - participants were given 52 cards with a randomly selected word on each card, they were then asked to sort the cards into between 2 – 7 categories of their choice. They were then asked to recall as many words as they could remember.
  • The more categories the participants had used, the higher their recall of words.

Research showing that organisation does not aid memory recall…

  • Deese - participants were presented with lists of associated words for example: thread, pin, eye, thimble, sewing, sharp. The participants were then asked to recall the words.
  • Deese found that a non-presented word such as needle was recalled by a large proportion of participants because they had organised it into a group with the words that had been presented.

Mnemonic Techniques - artificial methods used to enhance people’s memory involving providing a structure so that even random material can be organised effectively at the time of learning and can then be easily recalled.

The following are some mnemonic techniques…

Method of Loci - used to help remember a list of unrelated words.

  • You would think of a route you take regularly and you would then associate the words to locations on the route.
  • For example, one word might be eagle and on your route you may see a post box. You could imagine the eagle sitting on the post box.

Research showing that the method of loci aids memory recall was carried out by…

  • Bower - asked participants to recall five lists of 20 nouns, one group used the method of loci and one did not.
  • The group using the method of loci recalled 72% of the nouns compared with only 28% in the group that did not use the method of loci.

Story Method - used to remember a list of unrelated words by linking them together within the context of a story.

  • For example - the words to be remembered are: grey, colourful, big, corner, evil, lived and bite.
  • The story may go as follows: the GREY elephant liked to eat COLOURFUL berries from the BIG tree that was in the CORNER of the field. However, the EVIL snake who LIVED in the corner of the field would BITE the elephant if he tried to eat from the tree.

Research showing that the story method aids memory recall was carried out by…

  • Bower and Clark - they gave participants 12 lists of 10 nouns to recall, one group used the story method whereas the other group did not.
  • The group who used the story method recalled 93% of the nouns compared to only 13% in the other group.

Face-name System - helps to remember names.

  • You have to think of an image linked to the name of the person and link this image to a prominent feature on the person’s face.
  • For example – if someone was called Rachel Egginton you could imagine her with an egg on her head.

Evaluation

Strength - all the strategies are effective in improving memory because they capitalise on our previous knowledge.
Strength – organisation aids memory recall because it helps to chunk information together into categories and we cannot remember more than 7 chunks of information at any one time.
Strength - the face-name system has an application to the real world in that teachers often have to remember the names of many pupils.
Weakness - it is not clear which previous knowledge is used and why that particular knowledge is used.
Weakness - the methods often lack ecological validity – people do not have to remember a list of unrelated words in real life.
Weakness – the techniques cannot be applied to more complex learning, for example understanding explanations of schizophrenia.