Improving Visual Memory Skills

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Ideas for Students

  • Prepare: expect to have to remember.
  • Decide:
    • How to organise or prioritise the information
    • How many items you need to remember
  • Take a mental photograph:
    • ‘Map’ the layout
    • Identify key images and / or colours
  • Attach meaning:
    • Organise according to semantic links, eg on a page about shapes, group all triangles together
    • Relate to your own tastes or experiences – remember your favourite item first!
    • Match key words to selected images
  • Make it multisensory – engage other memory channels:
    • Kinaesthetic – trace shapes or layout with a finger on the desk
    • Auditory – when studying a particular diagram, recite the labels aloud or play a certain song as you work
    • Kinaesthetic / Auditory – Act out the content of what you’re trying to remember (as in charades!)
    • Kinaesthetic / Visual – Build a 3D version of a picture or diagram.
  • Link images and ideas together:
    • On a concept map
    • On a flow diagram
    • As part of a story
    • In alphabetical order

Ideas for Teachers

  • Prepare the pupils:
    • Include expectations about what they need to remember, in lesson objectives.
    • Explain how your presentation will help them remember
  • Demonstrate:
    • How to organise or prioritise the information – for example by grouping, arranging in quadrants, listing in order of importance, colour coding according to whether it’s essential or additional information.
    • How to set out work in manageable chunks. Four chunks is a manageable number for most people.
  • Tell pupils when to take a mental photograph:
    • Show them on the whiteboard how to ‘Map’ the layout
    • Use colour codes to highlight key elements
  • Attach meaning:
    • Organise according to semantic links – Use different layouts to appeal to different people – some pupils will prefer information presented in a table or chart, others in a spider diagram or as a list of bullet points.
    • Colour match key words to boxes around images
    • Allow pupils to organise information in their own favoured format, provided the content is sound.
  • Make it multisensory – engage other memory channels:
    • Kinaesthetic – Have pupils building components of a diagram rather than just drawing it – maybe from string or straws.
    • Auditory – when presenting a particular diagram, play a certain piece of music
    • Kinaesthetic / Auditory – Add actions or chants to presentations of visual information.
    • Kinaesthetic / Visual – Provide materials for pupils to build a 3D version of a picture or diagram.
  • Link images and ideas together and link to prior knowledge:
    • On Powerpoints, embed previous image in corner of each slide
    • Display overview of whole topic in visual format, on wall display, with enlarged version of current topic on display at appropriate time.