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Tips and Strategies to Help Improve Your Short- and
Long-Term Memory
Karen L. Wold, M.S.Ed.
Learning Disabilities Specialist
[email protected], 217-333-8705
Topics Covered
 Memory 101 – Different Types of Memory Defined
 The memory process
 Short-term memory (STM)
 Working memory
 Long-term memory (LTM)
 Memory Strategies
 Rote memory (Repetition)
 Mnemonics
 Associative memory (Making associations)
 Memory Compensations (Alternatives, “Work Arounds”)
 Using reasoning skills to compensate
 Keep in mind learning styles/strengths (visual, auditory,
kinesthetic, tactile) and effects of disability on memory
 Resources for More Information
Memory 101: Different Types of
 Memory process = encoding+ storage (sensory, STM, LTM)
+ retrieval
Encoding – taking information from our environment (very
short term, not retained over the long term)
Sensory storage – information we receive from our senses is
interpreted by our brains, then only the information that
we really pay attention to is transferred to STM
Learning allows us to transfer information from our STM to
our LTM
Retrieval is the ability to recall information we have
learned and memorized
Short-term Memory
 Information that comes to us through our senses
 Can only “hold” or retain for a few seconds
 Can only “hold” or retain a limited amount of
information (before other information “kicks it out”)
 Can only hold 5-9 bits of info (avg. of 7) at one time
 Example: phone number or name. Usually have to
write it down to remember later.
 Reflection Question: Why is it so hard to remember
the name of someone you just met?
Working Memory
 Working memory involves manipulating or changing
information that is in your memory
 For example, “mental math”, adding 123 + 45 in your
Long-term Memory
 Permanent and unlimited amount of storage of
Actively learning information by using memory strategies
enables the transfer of info from STM to LTM
Recall what is in your LTM through a process called
How well you can recall/retrieve information is directly
connected to how well you stored the information in the
first place (encoding and storage)
Reflection Question: Why would a student who has
studied for an exam for hours not be able to remember
important facts or concepts for the exam?
Memory Strategies:
Rote Memory (Repetition)
 Repeating information that you have received through
your senses again and again until you can remember it
Examples: phone number, spelling of a word, exact
Best with small amounts of information that have no
meaningful connection; does not work well if you have
to memorize large amounts of information
Many students use this strategy and nothing else to
memorize for every task, which is not always successful
Can use this strategy to answer the “what” question
Memory Strategies:
Mnemonic Devices
 Mnemonic devices are another rote memory technique
 Examples include: using the first letter of every item you need to
remember to make a new word or phrase,
a rhyme or song, or an acronym like DRES (Disability Resources
and Educational Services)
 Useful for random information that has no meaningful way
of organization
 Like repetition, best to memorize smaller amounts of
information. Somewhat overused strategy which is not very
effective with a large amount of information to memorize.
Do not over rely on rote memory techniques for
memorizing everything.
Memory Strategies:
Associative Memory
 More than repetition – thinking is involved!
 Using this strategy, you are more likely to remember
information over a longer period of time
Good strategy when you have to memorize a lot of
Connect new information to something you already know
Ask questions (especially “how” and “why”)
Make associations between new and old information
Examples: learning a new math formula, how does it relate to
the one you learned last week?; why did Jane Addams start
Hull House (what was happening in the society at the time)?
Memory Compensations:
Alternatives, “Work Arounds”
 Use reasoning skills. Some students have stronger
reasoning (verbal, nonverbal or both) than short and/or
long term memory. These students will benefit by
understanding the “why” of a process, procedure, event,
etc. so that they can “reason out” a correct answer on an
exam if they cannot easily memorize the correct answer.
 Keep in mind learning style or learning strengths when
memorizing information. For example, if you are stronger
visually, you will remember information better if you
organize it into some sort of visual format like a chart or
diagram. If you are an auditory learner, you will do better
with speaking out loud what you need to memorize.
Kinesthetic learners tend to learn better if they move while
learning (walking while studying/reviewing).
Memory Compensations: Alternatives,
“Work Arounds” (cont.)
 Keep in mind the effect(s) your disability has on your
ability to use short-term, working or long-term
memory. For example, students with learning
disabilities may have information processing problems
which include short- or long-term memory, or both
and students with depression, that may affect their
memory, may take a longer time to process
 “Work Arounds” may include memorizing at the
students’ best time of the day, memorizing small bits
of information at a time and/or reviewing frequently.
Resources for More Information
 College Reading and Study Skills, Kathleen T. McWhorter,
2001, 8th edition. *Please note, there are more recent
editions of this text.
ry1.html The Muskingum College database has a wealth of
study skills information, including course-specific study
strategies. This link is specifically for memory strategies.
 For students registered with DRES, Karen Wold, Learning
Disabilities Specialist at DRES is available for assistance
with your particular memorization or study skills needs.
She can be reached at [email protected] or 217-333-8705.