Resources for Educators

Teaching Tip

From the Teacher’s Aide Newsletter

2016 March

Tips to Encourage Memory Retrieval

We want our learners to have a comprehensive understanding of the concepts we teach, so we focus a lot of our attention on the use of content and situations, otherwise known as “critical thinking.” But let’s not forget that memorization of basic facts and terms can provide a solid foundation toward content knowledge and expertise. In fact, content recall is an integral part of the critical thinking process. Here are some ways we can help our learners in their memorization efforts:

  1. Help your learners answer the question, “Why am I memorizing this stuff in the first place?” If they have a purpose, they are more likely to remember.
  2. Break down new words. This is especially important for our anatomy teacher colleagues, who often present entirely new vocabulary.
  3. Use visualization strategies, like mnemonics that link words to images.
  4. Use testing, spacing, and interleaving. Look these up, they are supported by the latest learning research. Basically, you use quizzing as a study technique, spread out the study sessions, and alternate different topics.
  5. Encourage them to practice retrieval, not to simply reread their notes. They need to use their notes to challenge their memory. Passive rereading does not challenge memory, it tricks them into thinking they already know the material. Making flash cards out of their notes and testing themselves is a great way to practice retrieval.