Using Mnemonic Devices to Improve Memory
Nov. 8, 2016
All students, including those at Concorde, are always searching for new ways to remember facts and figures. So that, come exam time, they can reach into the deep recesses of their minds and recall a needed tidbit of information that could make the difference between success and failure in their health care education.
One “trick” of the trade when it comes to remembering things is something called mnemonics.
What is a mnemonic?
Mnemonics are memory devices that help learners recall larger pieces of information, especially in the form of lists like characteristics, steps, stages, parts, phases, etc. A mnemonic can be something as simple as a phrase, short song or something that is easily remembered, that we then use to remember something that otherwise would be difficult to remember. They are a way of remembering using association – associating easy to remember things with data.
For instance, one might memorize a catchy phrase such as “Richard of York Gave Battle In Vain.” The first letters of the words can help students remember the spectrum of colors in a rainbow (the “R” in Richard represents red, “Y” in York yellow, etc.). There’s a famous mnemonic for remembering the digits of pi – “May I have a large container of coffee?” Counting the letters in each word yields the sequence 3,1,4,1,5,9,2,6.
Of course, everyone knows the mnemonic phrase for remembering the numbers of days in the months of the year – “thirty days hath September, April, June and November … .”
Mnemonic devices easily can be adjusted and worded to help you memorize important facts and figures as you progress in your health care education.
Types of mnemonics that can help in health care education
Dennis Congos, a professor at the University of Central Florida, recently listed nine types of mnemonics in a blog on learningassistance.com. They are:
- Music – using lyrics to favorite songs to help you remember.
- Name – where the first letter of each word in a list of items is used to make a name of a person or thing.
- Expression or word – See examples above; the most popular form of mnemonics.
- Model – some type of representation is constructed to help with understanding and recalling information.
- Ode or rhyme – see the days of the months example above. Or, “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”
- Note organization – A good example is organizing notecards in a way that helps you organize your thoughts and facts. Another prime example is the use of an outline to break down complex material.
- Images – a picture can promote recall of information.
- Connection – the information to be remembered is connected to something already known. A good example is remembering the difference between longitude and latitude by remembering that the lines on a globe that run north and south are long, which coincides with LONGitude.
- Spelling – a principal at a school is your pal, and a principle is a rule.
So, remember, a mnemonic device can be a valuable tool in helping you remember those key facts that can put you over the top in an all-important exam. Give it a try and see how it works as you embark and advance through your health care education.