Creative Educational Strategies for Improving Students’ Memory
Date Posted:28 April 2016
Efficient on-the-job recall is especially important in medical fields, where students will need to make informed decisions quickly, to the benefit of their patients.
Improve their memory when they’re in the classroom, and you’ll equip them with lifelong knowledge they’ll be able to use when in the workforce. Setting them up with learning strategies now will see their greater success in the future.
There are many strategies that educators can use to boost students’ ability to store and retrieve information. As well as the ever-popular mnemonic device – an acronym-based tool used to prompt students’ recall of the first letter of each word in a phrase – teachers can use visual cues and other teaching aides to get the job done.
In a lecture theatre or practical classroom, students are confronted with endless streams of information; it can be difficult to determine which pieces are most important. Many students will simply transcribe the speech verbatim, thinking that they’ll look back over it later.
Encourage your students to take smarter notes and to process the information as they go – instead of delaying this important task. Rather than copying down everything word for word, they should think first, then write only what they think is most important. Not only this, but telling them to draw links between the facts immediately will mean they process the information better, improving their future recall. 
Visual and auditory cues
When students are studying, they rarely use their brain to its full potential. Most rely on rote learning, repeating the exam information aloud until they know it by heart. But this is an ineffective way of learning (and does not demonstrate that they have truly understood the information).
A more efficient way to commit items to long term memory is to combine the facts with rich information that draws on all the senses. 
Verbal information is stored in one area of the brain; visual information in another. Auditory information is kept in yet another lobe. The brain thrives when you link these functions together, and memory improves dramatically when one type of information is combined with another.
Draw pictures, create mind maps or utilise the benefits of posters. Even at a tertiary education level, students will benefit immensely from bright posters. Come exam time, or even on the field, they’ll be able to recall the engaging posters.
Sleep on it
Sleep is one of the most powerful techniques to aid learning and memory consolidation. While asleep, the brain has time to properly store and strengthen the neural connections that create lasting memories. 
The counter to this is that sleep deprivation – due to long nights studying, perhaps – has negative effects on the brain and can hinder its ability to process and recall information effectively.  Contrary to popular belief, an all-nighter is not the most productive way to learn, especially right before an exam. You cannot stress this to your students enough.
 Morris CD, Bransford JD, & Franks JJ. Levels of processing versus transfer appropriate processing. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 1977. 16(5): 519-533.
 Buckner RL, Raichle ME, Miezin FM, & Petersen SE. Functional Anatomic Studies of Memory Retrieval for Auditory Words and Visual Pictures. The Journal of Neuroscience, 1998. 16(9): 6219-6235.
 Healthysleep.med.harvard.edu. (2016). Sleep, Learning, and Memory | Healthy Sleep. [online] Available at: http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-sleep/learning-memory [Accessed 20 Apr. 2016].
 Gais S, Lucas B, Born J. Sleep after learning aids memory recall. Learning & Memory, 2006. 13: 259-262
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