I learned about memory’s fundamental role in learning and its implications for textbook reading from Daniel Willingham’s Outsmart Your Brain Chapter 5. Willingham explains how the brain stores memories in networks and how emotional arousal and repetition can affect how strong these memories are. He also emphasizes the importance of regularly reviewing information due to the fact that memories are reconstructed each time they are retrieved. Willingham suggests that, when reading textbooks, students should break up their study sessions and alternate the practice of various skills to improve long-term retention. Instead of relying on cramming, he emphasizes the importance of reviewing material multiple times. The book makes use of the acronym SQR3 and offers effective reading strategies like assigning a task to be completed while reading. He also warns against skimming through a book and only highlighting the important parts because you might not understand it or give the wrong information the wrong level of importance, taking in irrelevant information.
I was not particularly surprised by any of Willingham’s ideas, but these insights into the workings of memory are very important for students who want to improve their reading comprehension and retain textbook information. However, I did learn about the SSQR3 method, and I intend to try to incorporate it into my reading and studying. Students are said to be able to improve their academic performance and enhance their learning experience by putting Willingham’s methods into practice. In general, the pages 90-104 of Chapter 5 provide useful insights into the science of memory and its application to improving learning outcomes.