When I announced that I had finished the Study Skills Initiative last week, I was reminded that I neglected memory. I have never been known for my memory skills, and like many people in these days of smart phones and instant access to information, it has not gotten better. I no longer know people’s phone numbers or addresses, so if my phone goes down, I’m in trouble.
But while sheer memorization is not the key to college success, memory serves an important purpose in education. No one particularly wants a doctor who has to look up the symptoms of each disease every time he/she saw a patient. Having items in memory allows us time to think critically and evaluate information, instead of simply finding it over and over again.
So memory’s important, but like test-taking skills, you can also improve it by making sure your other study skills are in tip-top shape. If you attend class, read your texts, take notes, and do regular intervals of studying, you are in a much better position to remember important material.
It’s also important to accommodate your learning style when trying to memorize something. Today, Librarian Emily and I were talking about our efforts to name all the states and the countries of the world. We had both been successful in our endeavors, but we’d gone about it different ways. She pictured the map in her head and filled it in. I went alphabetically by region.
In the book, Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer writes about a technique that most people find helpful when having to remember long lists: the memory palace. For a short overview, here’s a video from Howcast. For a longer discussion about memory techniques, here’s Foer conducting a TED Talk.
Let’s face it. College students have to remember things. It pays to work on improving that memory muscle!