The Information Crunch (Retaining
What You Learn)
(Continued from 1)
Do you indulge in long bubble baths or frequent soaks
in the hot tub? (If not, you should!). Take your reading
homework or class notes with you. Water is
said to have a calming and clarifying affect on the
mental state, often inducing creativity. While your
body is relaxed, the mind is free to focus on the
task at hand, be it brainstorming a term paper or analyzing
Is it practical for you to arrive early to class? A
few quiet moments in your chair before the instructor
starts lecturing often help center your attention on
the subject matter.
The bottom line for finding time to study is knowing
where to look for it. The key is realizing that ample
time rarely exists. Fortunately, this works to
your advantage. Since the average human mind can only
focus for a few minutes on any one thing, frequent breaks
in absorption actually help you.
TIPS FOR RETENTION AND RECALL
Memory works in two distinct ways: short-term and long-term.
Short-term memory lasts only about ten to fifteen seconds
if the information isnt repeated. In addition,
your brain can only hold about seven pieces of information
in short-term memory at any one time.
Long-term memory lasts much longer, but it requires
encoding. The process of encoding, or passing information
from short-term to long-term memory, affects
the way in which it will be recalled. For the most part,
long-term memory works by association. Whatever your
mind associates with a particular piece of
information during the encoding process is what will
trigger that information during recall.
When memorizing facts, use mnemonic
devices. These trigger recall by association. For
example, if your goal is to commit seven important historical
dates to memory, envision a familiar place with each
of those dates occupying a particular space in this
place. Your house is an excellent choice. Associate
one date with your living room, another with your bedroom
and so on. If people or events accompany the hard fact,
simply picture the person sitting on your couch or the
event taking place in your dining room.
People have used herbal remedies for memory loss for
years. Ginkgo biloba extract, one of the most common,
supposedly works by correcting cerebral vascular insufficiencies,
or poor flood flow to the brain. Ginkgo increases the
supply of blood and oxygen to the brain and helps brain
cells make use of glucose. This results in improved
energy production, nerve signal transmissions and brain
wave tracings. Check with the U.S.
Food & Drug Administration for more information
Besides mnemonic devices and dietary supplements, following
are a few strategies to help make the best use of your
When reading long passages of text, highlight
key points. Or, take reading notes if you dont
want to deface your texts. Prior to continuing after
extended break, review the main points you highlighted.
Always try to read course material prior to
the lecture. Repeated exposure reinforces the
learning in your memory, and advanced familiarity with
engages application during classroom discussion.
Dont stop at highlights and reading notes.
Take class notes too. At the end of the period,
review the learning in your mind. Banging out a brief
of each class experience in your journal helps you remember
what was covered. It also practices your writing skills.
Most experts agree that the brain is like any other
muscle the more you use it, the more fit it becomes.
If this is true, memory and recall can be improved.
All it takes is diligence. Coupled with time capitalization
techniques, you can achieve academic excellence.
Perhaps an even greater benefit is the fact that your
new habits of efficiency will bleed over into other
areas of your life. Before you know it, youll
be one of the most efficient people around!
Mandy Borgmeier is currently a part-time student
and freelance writer. Her articles have appeared in
a variety of publications. She also creates corporate
brochures, newsletters, press releases, and technical
copy for large corporations and non-profit organizations.
Mandy lives in Northwest Arkansas with her husband and