Holding Information in Mind

Important interfaces exist between the process of understanding and a student's memory functions. That is, understanding is more effective when you remember and remembering is more effective when you understand.

Students need to be made aware of the interactions between memory and understanding, as well as the important differences. For example, just because students understand something when they first read it or hear about it does not mean that they will remember the information later. Likewise, it is clearly possible to remember something without understanding it. In fact, students may not actively process information they understand because of the misconception that understanding equals remembering.

However, the functions of memory also have a facilitative role in understanding. This has implications for instruction and management. Moreover, memory functions have a strong developmental component. Younger students tend to rely on rehearsal strategies to recall information, whereas older students tend to make rich semantic relationships among "to be remembered" information as an aid for recall.

Students who do not develop these tactics on their own can be taught to use more sophisticated strategies to facilitate memory. This chart describes some of the important skills related to holding information in mind.

Necessary SubSkillsCommon ObstaclesHelpful Tips
Student is able to register information effectively into his/her mind, for example attaching new information to what he/she already knows, keeping up with the pace of learning new information. Student does not register information effectively into his/her mind, e.g., does not attach new information to what he/she already knows, or is not able to keep up with the pace of learning new information. view
Student is able to hold information in his/her mind while developing understanding, for example listening to directions, following an oral lesson, copying from the board, or reading a passage. Student has difficulty holding information in his/her mind in order to develop understanding, such as when listening to directions, following an oral lesson, copying from the board, or reading a passage. view
Student is able to consolidate information into his/her mind in a way that enhances understanding, such as organizing information into meaningful categories. Student does not consolidate information into his/her mind effectively, e.g., does not organize information into meaningful categories. view