Getting Involved: Memory Workshop

Posted by Megan on March 5, 2014

Journey to the Centre of York

Hello readers,

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Getting Involved post. I’ve previously covered an Exam Prep workshop, a Music @ Midday event, as well as two different art exhibitions – Crawl to Stand and Bullied. Today’s post will highlight useful information from a Memory workshop I attended just last week.

Again, like with the last workshop, I recommend showing up about 5 minutes before the workshop is supposed to start. If the workshop happens to be on the second floor of the Bennett Centre, you will walk into a room with a projecter, a bunch of chairs, and a table with useful papers. This workshop’s papers included: a calendar of the workshops in March and April, a package of the power point slides that were used in the presentation (so you can read at your own pace and make notes if you want to) as well as an additional sheet detailing some more memory tips at greater detail.

This workshop first explained Memory from an easily understandable scientific viewpoint. It highlighted the different kinds of memory, how it works, what the limitations are, etc. The rest of the presentation detailed useful tips (some of which I will share below) and also had a mini-exercise where we separated into groups of three to test out some of the tips to memorize a set of either 4 or 8 concepts. It was interesting to see all the different methods people came up with!

Tip 1 – Don’t just read, ENGAGE!

The workshop leader highlighted a super important point that I’ve also come across in some of my textbooks. A lot of students get into a pattern of passively reading their textbooks. They might find themselves rereading lines, feeling mental ‘fog’, and so on. These same students also have a hard time recalling what they’ve learned when it comes to do their test – but that’s the problem. They haven’t really learned anything. They just passively tried to read the textbook and retain as much as possible. I call this ‘performing’ because you are really doing this trying to achieve an A/A+. What you NEED to do is ENGAGE with the material. Relate it back to yourself or some component in your life. Think about practical applications. Look up related videos on YouTube that will ‘flesh it out’. Use your textbooks online features (if it has any) to play study games, flashcards, and quizzes. It’s these additional steps that make the difference between performing and actually learning the material.

Tip 2 – It’s all in how you study.

A big mistake that most of us make is leaving studying until the week or even night before an exam. What is far far far more effective is studying in chunks. This should start as soon as you’ve had your lecture. After your lecture (or at the end of your school day) you should go back through your lecture notes and turn them into a summary with key words. A week after, do the same thing but connect the two lectures together. Keep doing this every week until it’s a week or two before your exam. THEN you can start study ‘sessions’. Make sure to take breaks, no longer than 30 minutes, and try to work in 2-3 hour chunks (which you likely won’t even need if you’ve done all the work before). If your mind start wandering, is foggy, or tired… take a break! At that point your brain is NOT engaging and you are switching from learning to ‘performing’. Great break ideas include getting a snack, taking a quick walk (10-15 minutes, even around your home, is perfect), pursuing a hobby, etc.

Tip 3 – You CAN improve your memory, you just have to work at it.

A lot of people think that they have a ‘bad’ memory but in reality it’s just untrained. Lots of research has demonstrated the plasticity of the brain and the fact that practice will accumulate grey matter. Beyond the steps I listed in my first tip, other great options to improve your memory include: visualizing concepts and joining them together in a meaningful way to you, creating power point summaries with images and other media to help remind you of what you need to remember, using acronyms (like HOMES to remember the names of the Great Lakes), acrostics (such as Never Eat Shredded Wheat to remember the directions of a compass), using rhymes, and method of loci (using a mental map, such as the one for your home, and associating a concept with a set location so you can ‘walk’ through the map and remember each thing – this can be hard to learn but perhaps be one of the most effective).

Don’t forget, you can read about all of the other workshops offered here and you can see their schedule here. If you pick up a ‘Passport’ from the table and get it stamped for 8 or more workshops, you will receive an awesome certificate that can be listed on your resume and applications!

Have any comments, questions, concerns? Sound off below!



Megan is a third-year Psychology student. Follow her on her journey of self-development as she explores and ventures through campus.

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