Jacksonville University  Swisher Library Rm 328

Workshop Resources

Current Workshops                        

Workshop Resources                    

Visual Cognitive Processing

Ms. Catherine Rushton, Ed.D

Harnessing Students’ Memory

     Memory is a complex process involving encoding, storing, and retrieving information. In the context of student learning, memory is fundamental, as it underpins the acquisition and retention of knowledge. Learning involves forming connections between new information and information stored in long term memory. Strategies that enhance retention, such as active engagement and organization of information, are key. Effective learning ensures the pathways to long-term memory are formed and facilitate the ability to transfer knowledge to new contexts, fostering critical thinking and problem-solving. Reducing cognitive load through clear presentation of information is also critical, as excessive load can hinder memory and comprehension.

     Cognitive load pertains to the mental effort required for learning tasks and can be categorized into intrinsic (task complexity), extraneous (task presentation), and germane (learning process) loads. Effective student learning hinges on managing these loads appropriately. To enhance learning, educators should minimize extraneous load by presenting information clearly, scaffold intrinsic load by breaking tasks into manageable parts, and encourage germane load through active learning. Balancing these cognitive loads is crucial for optimizing teaching and learning experiences, ensuring that students can understand and retain information efficiently.

     Ebbinghaus's Forgetting Curve, developed by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, illustrates how newly acquired information is rapidly forgotten initially and then more slowly over time. This research underlines the need for students to revisit and reinforce material to enhance long-term retention and retrieval. Ebbinghaus's work has had a profound impact on educational and memory research, offering insights on optimizing learning by strategically timing reviews and study sessions. Several effective learning strategies have emerged from recent research. These strategies aim to boost student memory and comprehension by maximizing synaptic connections and combating the forgetting curve. Peer-to-peer explanations involve students explaining concepts to peers, reactivating and strengthening memories while promoting active learning. Spacing involves revisiting key ideas throughout the school year, counteracting the forgetting curve, and enhancing retention. Frequent practice tests and retrieval practice activate memory pathways, improve long-term retention, and reduce stress. Combining text with images, using visual aids, chunking, scaffolding, priming prior knowledge, real-life examples, concept mapping, and formative assessments enhance understanding and retention. Finally, multisensory teaching engages various senses and caters to diverse learning styles, while recognizing the impact of emotions and motivation on learning fosters a positive and supportive environment.


Jordan, J., Wagner, J., Manthey, D.E., Wolff, M., Santen, S., & Cico, S.J.. (2019). Optimizing Lectures From a Cognitive Load Perspective. AEM Education and Training, 4(3), 306-312.

Lang, J.M. (2021). Small Teachings, 2nd Edition. Jossey-Bass. ISBN-13: 978-1119755548.

Terada, Y. (20 Sep 2017). Why Students Forget – and What You Can Do About It. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/article/why-students-forget-and-what-you-can-do-about-it.

Weimer, M. (30 Sep 2022). Mind Wandering. Faculty Focus. https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-teaching-strategies/mind-wandering/

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