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When you need to memorize something or study something carefully, use RCRC

Read a little bit of material. Read it more than one time.

Cover up the material with your hand.

Tell yourself what you have read.

Lift your hand and check.

If you forget something that is important, begin again.


(Solso, 1979; West, 1985; Lapp, 1987)

A. Eliminate non-essential material

1. Memory space is scarce and thus precious

2. Items that can be recalled via notes, references, etc. should not be remembered unless essential for daily life

B. Facilitate attention
1. Reduce unwanted visual, auditory, somatosensory and anxiety-related distractions

a. Organize and control your learning environment

b. Use earplugs to reduce noise

c. Use relaxation techniques to reduce anxiety/stress

d. Use stretching/exercise to reduce muscle tension

2. Maintain task focus by being "single-minded'
a. If going to another room to get something, complete that task before being distracted by another
C. Maximize depth of processing

1. Think about significance of new material

2. Elaborate and make connections

3. How does new information fit in with what you already know

D. Optimize the timing of learning
1. Study to assure that immediate memory (seconds), short-term memory (minutes), and long-term memory (one day or more) are competent
a. Review the same materials at least three times

2. Space study periods, providing at least 10 min per hour of rest

3. Distribute material to be memorized over several short study periods rather than one long one (avoid cramming)

a. Remember that short-term memory capacity is limited
4. Try studying before going to sleep to minimize interference
E. Rehearse to facilitate transfer from short-term to long-term memory
1. Use successively longer intervals
a. Repeat after 10 seconds, then after 20 seconds, then 40 seconds
F. Use external memory aids

1. Take notes; make sure paper and pencil are available; keep all notes in one place so you don't forget where you put them

2. Use electronic reminding devices which can be programmed to ring an alarm and print a message at a specified time

3. Put objects or notes in prominent places where they can't be overlooked

a. Link new tasks to old habits

b. E.g. place pills to be taken in morning by toothbrush

4. Use devices that let you know if you forgot

a. Use divided pill boxes so you can see if you have taken pill or not

G. Develop "habits" of remembering (procedural memory)
1. If you frequently lock yourself out of your house because of forgetting keys

a. Develop habit of having keys in your hand before pulling door shut

b. Initially will require active attention and perhaps external cues, i.e. large sign on door "keys in hand"

c. With sufficient practice, procedures will become an "automatic habit"

H. Explore your learning/memory style
1. Discover how you learn best
a. Listening (auditory input channel); left temporal-parietal processing
b. Reading (visual input channel); left temporal-parietal processing
c. Writing (motoric output with visual and kinesthetic feedback); left temporal-parietal processing
d. Visual imagery (mainly right temporal processing)
e. Acoustic imagery (mainly right temporal processing)

2. Practice using different approaches to optimize your learning mode

3. Study with friends who have complementary styles of learning (left/right learners may benefit from each other)

I. Use associative techniques to facilitate encoding and retrieval
1. Method of successive reduction
a. Review materials repeatedly until the number of associable elements is reduced to a manageable list. Then use method of paired associates.
i Verbal-nonverbal associations
(a)The more bizarre and striking, better the memory. For example, an "endocarp" is a fruit pit. Picture yourself hitting a carp (fish) with a gigantic fruit pit (nonverbal visual image)
ii Acustico-verbal images

(a)For above image of hitting fish with fruit pit, add play on words, such as, "This is the end o' carp."

(b)E.g. sound of state names could be visualized, e.g. Minnesota = mini soda

(c)Use rhymes and rhythms, "Thirty days has September…"

iii Verbal-image combinations
(a)To remember that the capital of Maryland is Annapolis, think of Mary landing on a apple
iv Verbal-verbal combinations
(a)Use mnemonics such as jingles, to help remember a list of terms in order. E.g. "On Old Olympus' towering top…" for cranial nerves, "Olfactory, Optic, Occulomotor, Trochlear, etc.
v Numerical-verbal combinations
(a)Make up memorable 7-letter words for phone numbers using the letters on the dial: 1=ABC, 2=DEF, etc
(i) So 463-3696 becomes HOE DOWN
(b)For automatic teller codes, make up a 4-word phrase: number of letters in each word is the number in the code
(i) If code is 5424, code might be "Money, give me some!"
(ii) Make code relevant to task to minimize difficulty
b. Method of loci
i Sequential recall

(a)A list of cues is derived from memory images of geographic or spatial locations (top of head, forehead, nose, ears, chin, neck, etc.)

(b)Items to be remembered are associated with each of these locations

(c)The imaginal construction should be unusual, bizarre and striking

ii Mental mapping

(a)A variation of the method of loci

(b)Allows for construction of an analogue of the materials to be learned in the form of a conceptual drawing with interactive components

2. Memory strategies
a. Remembering faces

i Look directly at the person, say the name aloud as soon as you are introduced

ii Rehearse the name at successively longer intervals

iii Look for the most memorable feature and associate that with name (e.g. a man named Bentavagnia who has a hooked nose-imagine him with a nose like a bent weather vane.)

iv Invent a feature with the name

(a)Zukerman = sucker man (imagine the man with an all day sucker)
b. Remembering foreign words
i Study Latin and Greek prefixes and suffixes to facilitate semantic associations

(a)Form multiple associations to each word

(b)Do English-foreign and then foreign-English


1. ATTENTION: Attend to the material intensely and wholly. Nothing else should enter your mind. Later, but not now.

2. INTEREST: Ask questions to stimulate interest. Take part or sides in the problem issues and subjects you are reading about.

3. INTENTION: Intend to remember as if your life depended on it.

4. BELIEVE: Trust and believe in your ability to remember. It will strengthen as you lay burdens on it and because you come to trust it.

5. START RIGHT: Concentrate on accurate input, not speed, at the beginning.

6. SELECT: Concentrate on the most significant things, the essential and the important. You can't, nor are you expected, to get 100%. Give your most intense attention to what is new, difficult and must be remember.

7. ASSOCIATE: The more associations you can elicit for an idea, the more meaning it will have; the more meaningful the learning, the better one is able to remember it. People with good memories usually THINK OVER their experiences-real and vicarious-and systematically relate or associate them with previous learning.

8. BACKGROUND: Build background. The more background you have on a subject, the more interest you will have and the better you can form associations and discern relationships between the new and old.

9. ORGANIZATION: A good memory is like a well-organized and well-maintained filing system. When a new fact presents itself and you decide to keep it, you will associate (file) it with its natural or logical group. Bunch or associate ideas, facts, or details consistent with the organization of the chapter.

10. RECITATION: Quiz or self-test yourself after every paragraph or natural break. Recite in your own words. Recitation not only serves memory but tests and promotes understanding.

11. NOTES: Take brief notes in your own words and arrange them in some meaningful order. Review them immediately after concluding the chapter.

12. REVIEW: The best time to review is immediately after initial learning has taken place. We forget most in the first 24-48 hours.

13. SPACED REVIEW: Periodically review so that forgetting has less of a chance to take place. If the intervals between reviews are too widely spaced, more forgetting will occur.

14. OVERLEARN: When you are sure you know it, then review it one or two more times. If you can recall it instantly, you have overlearned it. The more important and difficult the learning, the more you should overlearn it and reinforce it with frequent reviews.

15. STUDY=>SLEEP: Freshly learned material is better remembered by most people after a period of sleep or mental activity than after a period of daytime activity when interference takes place.

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