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Short Term Memory Strategies

Page history last edited by fran toomey 13 years, 7 months ago

Here are some general strategies for STM. 



1.  Stop every so often and record information in some way:  notes, highlighting, underlining.  How often you stop and record depends on the number of "items" you can hold in your short term memory....maybe 2 to 6...without "losing." them.  This doesn't just apply to words.  We also read, view, and listen to connected speech.  How many sentences or ideas we can "hold on to" before losing it will depend on what constitutes an "item" for the individual.  One student might be able to read, for example, a whole paragraph and hold the information long enough to just writea few key words to summarize (package) the paragraph.  Other students may need to "record" something after one or two sentences.


Remember that what makes up an "item" depends on how you package information into slots.   So, if you have packaged the items into a superstructure, you might have a lot of what someone else would consider individual items. 


Here's an example.  One of the ways to remember stories is by packing them into these 4 slots:  Somebody-
Wanted-But-So.   Somebody (the main characters), Wanted (what they wanted to achieve, a problem to solve), But (there were obstacles in the way) So (here's what they did to achieve their goal or solve their problem).  If you use this superstructure, you can pack a lot into each of the 4 slots; then, unpack the slots when you need them.  This is analogous to packing groceries into bags at the grocery store and then unpacking the bags at home.  Imagine if you had 30 items, including some heavy and awkwardly shaped ones and you had to just carry them in your arms without putting them into bag.  You'd surely drop many of them.  That's what happens with "items" in STM, too, unless they are packaged.


2.  Whenever you can reproduce the information (go back to it; print it out, record it), do that.  Ideally, the information is in a form that you can go back to when you need it.  Just be sure you know where to find it.


3.  The most typical strategy for remembering a few items of information:  telephone number, grocery list, simple mental math problem, 2 or 3 step directions is simply to "rehearse" or repeat it until it is used.


3.  Use a mnemonic strategy.


Remembering Overview   

Memory Manager

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