Supporting and enhancing students’ cognitive abilities continues to be a major objective of these blog entries. Thus, the focus of this article is to explain two different methods for assisting memory: the Production and the Von Restorff effects. However, each technique can benefit anyone who wants to strengthen memory.

The Production effectrefers to what happens when using vocalizing as a mnemonic to improve memory of a new concept.”  For example, transferring visual information, such as reading, to a vocal and auditory mode,(saying) produces a more distinctive memory.  Using more than one sense reinforces the new concept. “Basically, by producing something with the material, the learner is actively engaged in strengthening the connections in their brain, as opposed to passively letting it wash over them.”

This production can occur in a variety of ways: reading aloud, writing, dual coding, drawing, flashcards, singing, or working with a partner.  In fact, one study found that “singing and reading aloud loudly have a more pronounced effect on memory than reading aloud.” 

Another method to strengthen memory is the Von Restorff  (or isolation) effect, in which an item that is distinct will be easier to remember. “This is a bias in favor of remembering the unusual.”  Changing the meaningfulness of a piece of information in some way causes it to stand out.  For example, if trying to recall the four continents located in the Southern Hemisphere( Antarctica, Australia, South America, Africa), the one that starts with a different letter (S) may be the easiest to remember. When studying, use different color pens or pencils to annotate important concepts.  

The Von Restorff effect has relevance beyond the classroom, particularly in design. It affects the interaction and experience users have with a company’s products and services. These design aspects can include color, shape, size, font, and spacing.  “Using the Von Restorff Effect to highlight important information amongst a group of similar information is a critical visual tool.” 

Laura Maniglia