Mnemonic Device ( A complete guide)

What is a Mnemonic Device?

A mnemonic device is also known as a memory device. It is a learning method that helps a person keep and retain several pieces of information in their memory.

Mnemonics make use of elaborate encrypting, recovery cues, and visuals as a person tries to create a device to remember a given set of data that can be used at a later point in time.

These devices can help people study for exams, remember the order of a list of items that can be applied in a variety of professional and everyday situations.

Several mnemonics already exist but more are being created each day to help people remember various pieces of information.

Additionally, professionals deduce the type of activity the child requires to do by studying their zone of proximal development.

Importance

The human mind is set up to be able to recall important pieces of information.

Even if we want it to, the human mind does not overlook or misplace several important pieces of information.

When we say that we forget something, we really are struggling to remember something due to misplaced information, memory chunks or a loss of evidence.

Oftentimes, we will remember pieces of information that our mind deems as significant. Pieces of information that we deem as less important are naturally more difficult for us to recall.

We place a higher value on information on information that we want to recall.

Mnemonic devices help us recall information that we have trouble remembering and they serve us in daily life. 

Types and Examples of mnemonic devices

There are many mnemonic devices but few of them described below along with examples to that will help you understand their importance:

  • Music Mnemonics

Music is a strong tool for remembering things and is especially helpful when learning to play a new instrument.

Many beginners make songs out of scales, which musicians often learn at the beginning of your career.

Radio and television commercials use jingles and mnemonics to help consumers remember their company and their products when they go shopping.

Mnemonics can be made to almost any tune and are designed to help the consumer remember the sound and the product.

Mnemonics in music work especially well when referring to something that is an extensively long list.

  • For example:

Few kids learn the ABC’s by whistling the “ABC” song. Some kids learn all of the states in alphabetical order with the help of the “50 Nifty United States” song. 

  • Name Mnemonic

In a Name Mnemonic, the first letter of every word in a list of objects is used to create a name of a person, place or a thing.

Name mnemonics are popular across every subject and have been used to help students and working professionals remember the order of a list of things. 

  • For example:

To remember the colours of the rainbow spectrum (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet) the acronym ROY G.BIV is often used. 

  • Expression Mnemonics

To show an expression or term mnemonic, the very first letter of every thing in a list makes up an expression or word.

Expression mnemonics are often used in school, and our example below comes from an English class:

  • For example:

Some people have difficulty remembering conjunctions, of which there is a limited amount.

One way to remember the seven conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) create a term called FANBOYS.

This is an easy way for someone to remember that any word that is not one of those conjunctions is not a conjunction.

  • Model Mnemonics

 In a Model Mnemonic, a few visuals are used to help someone understand and remember important statistics pertaining to a data set.

  • For example:

Examples include a pie chart, a bar graph, a pyramid of phases or a five box arrangement.

These models should be used to help people remember steps, concepts and lists that are considered particularly important to remember for a test or a project.

This will also help someone feel a lot more relaxed when they need to remember this information right before taking an exam.

  • Rhyme Mnemonics

Rhyme Mnemonics, which are also known as ode mnemonics, help individuals remember information in the shape of a poem. 

  • For example:

A frequently used rhyme mnemonic for the amount of days in every month. There are 30 days in April, September, June and November.

All the remaining months have 31 days and February is the only one which has 28 or 29 days after every four years.

This rhyme is an easier way to help people remember the number of days in a month.

  • Note Organization Mnemonics

The way in which textbooks and lecture materials are prepared is not conducive to helping students remember important information.

A memory device for studying can be particularly helpful in ensuring that students learn what they are being taught in the classroom and can retain the information. 

  • For example:

Notecards: Notecards are a more informal way of capturing ideas, concepts and lists that a student might need to remember for an exam.

Testing someone else with notecards is a good way to see if you can remember all of the information that was presented to you.

Note cards are in essence a way that students can practice running through questions that are likely to appear on an exam.

  • Image Mnemonics:

Image mnemonics help many people [particularly visual learners] remember certain pieces of information when you need it most.

The simpler the image mnemonic is, the more likely the person is going to remember each piece of information that they need to learn.

Image mnemonics are helpful in studying for exams and remembering key ideas before you give a presentation at work. 

  • For example:

You can practice an Image Mnemonic to recall Barbiturates, Alcohol, and Tranquilizers, which are three types of sedative drugs.

Remembering an image of a bat is likely to help you remember the order of these pieces of information. 

  • Connections Mnemonics

In a connections mnemonic, one item is going to be linked to the previous item mentioned in some way, shape or form.

Connection mnemonics will also help you remember patterns.

  • For example:

Memorizing the track of longitude and latitude is easier to do when you understand that the lines on the earth run from north to south.

These long lines can help you remember that N to S lines refer to longitude.

Another mnemonic involves recognizing that there is an N in both North and longitude, which builds an association between those two terms.

This also helps you remember that since there is no n in latitude, east to west lines represent latitudinal lines. 

Benefits of mnemonic devices 

Mnemonics are associated with an increase in an ability to retain information and improve the way in which certain concepts, ideas and facts are taught.

This helps students associate the new concept with something they already know, which therefore makes it a lot easier for them to retain.

Mnemonics provide a way to help people remember facts that are true and false as well as make connections between words and concepts that would not otherwise be connected. 

Limitations of Mnemonic Devices

Although mnemonics are largely helpful, they do have some limitations which are important to recognize.

Mnemonics may be very helpful for a lot of people, but for others they might be difficult to use.

The following is a list of limitations associated with mnemonic devices: 

  • Some people (especially adults) are hesitant to make connections using images and stories to remember content. 
  • Some people are reluctant to learn new ways of remembering information and prefer to rely on previous learning methods.
  • It takes time to learn how to properly use a mnemonic device.
  • Using mnemonics needs more effort in the beginning of the learning process.
  • Mnemonics do not ensure understanding.
  • Learning with mnemonics without context can be very difficult.

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FAQs About Mnemonic Devices:

Can I create my own mnemonic device?

You can create your own mnemonic device.

Even though several types of mnemonics already exist, you are free to create one that best suits your needs.

You can create a mnemonic out of any of the categories listed above and apply it to any learning situation.

If your peers find the mnemonic helpful, it may be useful to share it with them in order to help them study for an exam or work on a presentation.

Will mnemonics help me remember everything?

Mnemonics are only an aid, and while they may help you remember several topics they will not help you remember every topic.

Mnemonics are also useful for some people and are not as useful for other people.

This variation could depend on a number of factors, such as a difference in learning styles.

Interested in Learning More? Check out these books on mnemonic devices:

Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge: The Book of Mnemonic Devices

Writing Better: Effective Strategies for Teaching Students with Learning Difficulties

Unlimited Memory: How to Use Advanced Learning Strategies to Learn Faster, Remember More and Be More Productive

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References:

 Soanes, Catherine; Stevenson, Angus; Hawker, Sara, eds. (29 March 2006). Concise Oxford English Dictionary (Computer Software): entry “mnemonic” (11th ed.). Oxford University Press.

https://www.learningassistance.com/2006/january/mnemonics.html

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