Chapter 4: Encoding Processes (Part I)

Encoding affects retention (storage) and retrieval of information from memory

Two kinds of learning:

  1. Simple – involves associating terms and acquiring them through rehearsal (e.g. memorizing grocery list, name of capital cities, etc.)
  2. Complex – involves understanding, reasoning, and critical thinking (e.g. digestive processes, chemical reactions, etc.)

*according to research in cognitive psychology, encoding is enhanced when we combine and thoughtfully use strategies to learn simple information (imagery, linking, mnemonics, etc.) with strategies to learn complex information (understanding, reasoning, problem-solving, attaching meaning, etc.)!

Encoding Simple Information

Two types of Rehearsal:

  1. Maintenance rehearsal – shallow encoding; direct recycling of information in order to keep it active in STM (verbal repetition); retention is limited in this kind of encoding; highly efficient for a short-while; e.g. taking down someone’s telephone number; seldom last long L
  2. Elaborative rehearsal – information to-be-remembered is related to other information; deeper or more elaborate encoding activity; leads to high level of recall; sometimes, information can be broken into component parts and related to what one already knows

* Different types of rehearsal are appropriate for different type of tasks

Q: Give examples of the type of tasks (in your own life) that would require you to use

Maintenance rehearsal strategies

Elaborative rehearsal strategies


Mediation – tying difficult-to-be-remember items to something more meaningful; results in deeper, more elaborate encoding than simple repetition of new content

Imagery – encoding using images/pictures (non-verbal); leads to better memory performance; easily imagined words (more concrete in nature, like ‘car’, ‘pencil’, etc.) tend to be remembered more readily than hard-to-imagine words (more abstract in nature, like ‘freedom’, ‘truth’, etc.); this activity can be extended to encode complex CONCEPTS too; consider individual differences among students in tier ability to image information; some students are better able to employ imagery than others and these differences seem to lead to differences in memory performance; best images (that enhance memory) are bizarre (vs. mundane), colorful, and strange.

The Peg Method – students memorize a series of ‘pegs’ on which to-be-learned information can be ‘hug’ one item at a time; e.g.

One for bun

Two for shoe

Three for tree

Four for door

Five for hive

Six for sticks

Seven for heaven

Eight for gate

Nine for pine

Ten for hen

Construct a visual image of the first thing on the to-be-learned list interacting with the object named in the first line of the rhyme

The Method of Loci – mentally walking through a ‘location’ (that one is extremely familiar with); each item (sofa, table, window, television, etc.) in the ‘location’ is linked to particular to-be-learned information

The Link Method – no need for a previously learned set of materials like the rhyme or ‘location’; used when learning list of things; student forms an image for each item in a list of things to be learned; each image is pictured as INTERACTIING with the next item on the list; all of the items are linked in imagination

Stories – stories can be constructed from a list of words to be remembered, the to-be-learned words in a list are put together in a story such that the to-be-learned words are highlighted; at recall, the story is remembered and the to-be-remembered words are plucked from the story

The First-Letter Method – using the first letters of to-be-learned words to construct acronyms or words

The Keyword Method – to facilitate vocabulary acquisition; used in connection with imagery; two stages (illustrated with an example of learning the word, ‘captivate’)

  1. Acoustic link – search for a ‘keyword’ within the to-be-learned word, let’s say ‘cap’
  2. Imagery link – link this keyword, ‘cap’ with an image (image from real-life connected to one’s experiences)

Copyright September 2006 by Dr. Edward Roy Krishnan,

14 thoughts on “Chapter 4: Encoding Processes (Part I)”

  1. By testing how good our long-term memory works, it reminded me of one of my teacher’s daughter. At that time she is maybe 2 to 3 years old, and her mother taught her to memorize the alphabets from A to Z then back ward from Z to A; and she did it well and able to recite every letter in second, any time when you asked her to do. I tried her one time and I was surprised, and thought how could she do that. Now there are different strategies in ecoding processes, which strategy is help for recite alphabet from Z to A?

  2. What To Remember in School by Kenn Nesbitt

    Forget that two times four is eight.
    Forget the name of every state.
    Forget the answers on the test.
    Forget which way is east or west.

    Forget the myths of ancient Rome.
    Forget to bring your books from home.
    Forget the words you learned to spell.
    Forget to hear the recess bell.

    Forget your homeroom teacher’s name.
    Forget the after-school game.
    Forget which team’s supposed to win.
    Forget to turn your homework in.

    Forget the distance to the moon.
    Forget how many days in June.
    Forget the capital of France.
    But don’t forget to wear your pants!

    This guy has a big problem in remembering.
    I don’t even know what encoding strategy to use for this guy to maintain simple information in his memory. Or I don’t know he has memory or not. Could you please help me?

  3. In response to Chokechai, i believe this guy have the encoding ability but he is just neglecting it. He has memory but it is dificult for him to encode all the things. My suggestion is, this guy should see the mental psychologist to help him to find the right way to encode his memory.

  4. I think the simplest answer to Say Pler’s question (about teaching kids to remember A to Z) is what we’ve been doing since kids and even in Mrs. Lalitha’s class and that is to put it into a song. It’s not on the list that Dr. Roy gave but singing a song to something you want to remember is quite helpful too. I’ve tried it. =)

  5. I think that this is the only process that I skip when I learn things. B/C no matter what I seem to learn it goes alway, except for video games, & other random things about women. However, my imagary memory is great. I dont know why! but everytime I learn somthing new it pushes somthing old out of my mind.. Overall, we will die one day, & than the encoding process will be useless.. Thanks!


  6. i was found something interesting online and it’s about giving your brain training.. and it says by getting some sort of hynosis will actually improve memory.. how does our brain actually reacts to hypnosis activity.. ??.. and why izzit that it helps in memory?

  7. I think that these strategies are very effective. It helps to encode the information into long term memory. If we know how to choose the appropriate strategies, we will remember the information for a long time. For example, when we learn theory, we often use “key word” method. It makes the theory easy to memorize. When we study physics, we should use “imagery” to understand and remember a physical phenomenon. For me, when I feel hard to remember anything, I often use first letter method (using the first letter of the words to be learned to construct another word). Therefore, choosing the appropriate strategy for a situation will help you much in memorizing things.

  8. I think there are many different strategies to improve the encoding process and memory. However, we don’t know which one is best for everybody. Each person has their own best way to encode information. Therefore, teachers cannot teach only the mnemonic that is most suit for themselves. The better way to improve children’s memory is to teach various mnemonics and encourage the students to develop their own strategies. When I teach Chinese to the children, I put the phonetic letters into a poem and show some relative pics to help them memorize these sounds. Sometimes, I tell my students to make a story for a Chinese character. It is useful and easy to memorize.

  9. Mnemonic strategy is good for some students who can related the concept. But it will work with some other. For example, the teacher us mnemonic to teach a new lesson, hoping that students will remember what she/he has taught. But there are some students who can’t relate this strategy to the lesson. When you give the test, they will write what they have memory or the mnemonic words. In this case, how can we as teacher solving it??

  10. After learning some strategies about memory, I really got some help in my own learning. Especially in the link method, I use it usually when I want to remember something. But the peg method, Loci method I didn’t use these at all. I think it is more complex for me, even though are easy method. But I perfer some strategies which apply our real experiences. By the way I think people use memory strategies different ly. So if apply to the teacher we should look the students individually. It may accord to the students background, knowledge and interest as well.

  11. Encoding processes help us in learning and studying a lot. I remember when I was in high school, I hate to study history so much because I always forgot the date and the names of the famous people when the teacher ask me. Now, if I have to study it again I think I will like it more because I learned more about encoding processes and strategies. I think the best way to encode informations into long-term memory is learn how to link, relate or connect it into a meaningful for us.

  12. Answer to chokchai: reading the rythem dat Kenn Nesbitt wrote it cought my attention and i think it cought your’s 2. it not then you will not post this text…, This guy is kinda smart because he is useing all oposit of what you need to know and some how it makes it sound funny and interesting and da words are rime.

    for example i read all the comment and i only rember chockchai comment, why? because it is something wierd and funny…….

  13. My new studying styles.
    When I was small, no one teach me how to memory. The only one that my Mom taught me was repeating until remembers all. Then I read a book about how to get A. It’s every helpful in learning and study management. Then I know that I’m kind of visual learner. If I forget the picture of the page that I study, I will unable to recall. That was the no longer my way for studying. Now, I use diagram to show the related of concept together. Then it is no problem for me to study. Another way, I use to use first letter to study concept. For multiple choices I use keyword and high light. When I take multiple choices, I will scan for keyword (especially for Mrs. Kurian class 🙂 . For essay, just make study of concept and related in order. Then in the exam hall, I will wire everything that I can remember by my own words. How about Dr. Roy exam? I’m taking Assessment and Evaluation course. It’s all about how to make a good test and quiz. Now I know how teacher making a test. I difference teacher have difference way to make test. So what are Dr. Roy styles of making test? Do you know?

  14. We did presentations on the strategies for encoding process and our group chose Peg Method. It was almost two months and I can still remembered what our groups drew in association with the ten words given as pegs. And I can also vividly remember how other groups presented their methods. This show how effective each method is and how helpful it is to use in the classroom for better memory encoding processes for students. The strategies are simple and effective to a great degree.

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