Memory: Short-Term, Active, and Long-Term Memory

As students read, they must hold important information and concepts in their minds. They must process words, sentences and paragraphs together in order to gain full meaning. In addition, readers must call up relevant information they already know. Memory, the storage and filing system of the mind, is essential in helping students comprehend as they read, make associations between prior knowledge and new information, and remember that same information at a later time, such as during a test.

This chart describes some important memory functions related to reading comprehension.

Necessary SubSkillsCommon ObstaclesHelpful Tips
Student is able to register ideas and information in her mind while reading, in order to gain meaning from what she reads or to think about the material. Student is not able to sufficiently register (or think about) ideas or information while reading, and seems to have trouble grasping meaning or thinking about the material. view
Student is able to hold or suspend ideas or information in his mind while reading further, e.g., he can remember what happened earlier in the story. Student is not able to hold what she has read in her mind, e.g., she forgets the beginning of a passage by the time she gets to the end. view
Student is able to store information and then call it up some time after having read the passage. Student does not seem able to store and/or retrieve information after having read the text. view