In college students’ life,
excellent learning is always the ultimate target every single student wants to
achieve. To reach that desired destination, learners need to comprehend the relationship
between learning and memory. “There will no learning without memory, although
some memories can be innate such as instincts and basic reflexes” (Stone cited
in Wickens, 2005) or “learning and memory go hand in hand with one another”
(Carlson, 2010). Indeed, “learning and memory are closely related to each
other: For something to be remembered, it must first be learned” (Pearson,
n.d.).However, memory is the solid foundation for the development of learning
because it is “a house, a library or a dictionary” (Pearson, n.d.). This skill,
therefore, plays an important role in learning process and has a profound
impact on college students. Also, “memory is the mother of all the wisdom”
(Kathleen cited in Johnson, n.d.). Because of the importance of memory, many
scientists are trying to “unlocking the secrets to enhancing memory” (Pearson,
n.d). This skill, however, is a long process of constant learning and
experiencing. Thus, this paper, with the purpose to help college students
improve their memory, will discuss the importance of memory in students’
learning process, explain why students forget and propose some ways to boost
2. Discussion of findings
2.1. What is the concept of memory?
To date, memory can be
understood in various ways. For educators, memory is the only evidence proving
something or anything has been taught for students (Banikowski, 1999).
Generally, “memory is perhaps the most central aspect of human thought”
(Pearson, n.d.). It responds any question about “human behavior, cognition,
development and nature” (Pearson, n.d.). To be more precise, memory has three
First, memory is the location where
the information is kept, as in the storehouse, or memory store. Second, memory
can refer to the thing that holds the contents of experience…. Finally,
memory is a mental process used to acquire (learn), store, or retrieve
(remember) information of all sorts (Peason et al, n.d.).
The position of memory has been discovered early from ancient
Greece to more modern times. Plato is a first great philosopher who “emphasized
rational thought as a means of understanding of the world” (Pearson, n.d.). He
also thought “memory serves as the bridge between the perceptual world and a
rational world of idealized abstraction” (Pearson cited in Viney and King,
1998). Plato’s ideas were further developed by his prominent pupil- Aristole
who claimed that memories are created by associations among various stimuli or
experiences (Pearson, n.d). Till the end of nineteenth century, researchers
found that memory includes two main types: working memory (short-term memory)
and long-term memory. Working memory is defined as a limited capacity part of
the human memory system that combines the temporary storage and manipulation of
information in the service of cognition ( Alan Baddeley and Graham J. Hitch
(2010)) while the term long-term memory “refers to the unlimited capacity
memory store that can hold information over lengthy periods of time” (Anonymous, n.d,).
2.2 Why do students forget?
Most people have
experienced the challenge of recalling information they have learned. People
think that “their memory capacity is poor”, or “they had studied, however, the
information disappeared after only a few days” are the reasons that explain why
they forget. Exactly, the information (memory) has not disappeared from the
head, it is buried somewhere in the brain (Feldman, 2000). However, the problem
is that the memory capacity is truly “astounding” and the information does not
disappear but why forgetting does occur. To understand more about this, it
needs to know how the brain works. “Human memory works like a computer. Both
have essentially the same purpose: to encode, store,and retrieve information”
(Carter, Bishop and Kravits, 1998). During the first stage, forgetting occurs
due to “failed encoding”. That may be because of absent-mindedness,
distraction, lack of attention (Benjamin, Brice and Anthony, 2010). If students
are distracted during the lesson, of course nothing is successfully stored in memory.
Thus, these factors influence and contribute to failures.
students fail to store information may be due to the fact that “information in
working memory was never transferred to long-term memory” (Banikowski cited in
Slavin, 1997). In fact, it happens because “information in
working memory is fragile and easy lost” (Woolfolk, 1980). Therefore,
information kept in working memory easily “decay” or “faded”. Furthermore,
forgetting due to failures to retrieve. It occurs when students “can’t locate
information stored in long-term memory”. It likes when people want to find a
book in the library, they need to find exactly the book’s name, its position,
its author. The more connection students create among pieces of information in
long-term memory, the more they can recover those pieces (Banikowski, 1999)
Also, “in general, we forget the meaning less… and retain the
meaningful” (Kathleen cited in Rupp, n.d.). Consequently, students tend to
forget dry theories and remember fascinating things. Besides, if the time
passes rapidly, the knowledge retained will reduce. This referred to the term
“time decay” (Woolfolk, 1980). “Interference” which occurs when new and old
information gets mixed up with each other, also affect memory (Woolfolk, 1980).
2.3. How to enhance
There are numerous ways to improve the ability of memorization.
However, it is important when students combine between learning and practice.
“Connection” is regarded as a “tip of the tongue” (Kathleen,
1998). It is crucial for students to build connection between what is already
known and what needs to be learned. “What we already know determines to a great
extent what we will pay attention to, perceive, learn, remember, and forget”
(Kathleen cited in Woolfolk, 1980). What decides the ability of memory is
related to the students’ competence to create multiple meaningful connections
among bits of information (Kathleen cited in Finn and Metcalf, n.d.).
said “the true art of memory is the art of attention”. Attention is very
crucial, however, it is a limited resource, only allow learners to attend to
one demanding task at a time till it turns to automatic (Woolfolk cited in
Anderson, 1995). It is very useful and effective when students combine
visualization and attention. Because it makes the concentration, engages
multiple senses and easily link variance bits of information together (Feldman,
2000). Especially, it is very quick to find the position of information. Indeed, weird is the excellent way to visualize. “The more extreme,
outlandish and eccentric the image you create, the more notable it will be and
so the easier it will be to remember” (Feldman, 2000).
In addition, the value of the information
influences memory in a profound way. Imagine when travelling for a long time
and changing hotels from one place to another with different hotel rooms,
certainly, people only remember the current room number they are living and
forget the old one. This is because people tend to remember information that
has the high value (Kathleen et al, 1998) and the mind has a tendency to stick
to the information that is meaningful, as well as structured (Banikowski cited
in Jensen, 1998).
Indeed, repetition is the
indispensable process to enrich memory. Not everything students were taught in
college is fun or interesting. Students only can remember the things they did,
not the things that they learned (Kathleen cited in Susan Hilyer, n.d.). Some
skills must be acquired for a long period of effort and reinforcement.
Therefore, the ability to transfer information automatically, quickly and
effectively between short-term and long-term memory is the goal that students
need to achieve (Kathleen, 1998).
Finally, emotion affects
what people remember (Kathleen cited in Levine and Pizarro, n.d.). That is
because “what we learn with pleasure we never forget” (Kathleen cited in
Alfred, n.d.). Information that contains an emotional “hook” is easier to be
remembered (Kathleen, 1998). It is likely to be that students who encountered
previous failures is more effective to break the relationship between learning
and previous emotional experiences (Kathleen cited in Hallahan, Kauffman and
This above analysis aims to
provide an insightful comprehension about human memory. Then, it is important
to know the reason why students forget. Also, the infinite benefits can be
reached by some simplest steps. Having effective memory not only facilitates
the learning process at college but also has profound impacts on future career.
Obviously, it takes time but worthy to try the best.