Memory, the process of converting information perceived from the environment into a form it can be stored and retrieved from for future needs and references is an intricate process that involves the short memory and long memory. The capacity of an individual to understand and comprehend information stored highly depends on the strategies applied to store and retrieve content from memory. Though there are many strategies that individuals can apply for effective encoding, storage and retrieval of information from memory, this paper focuses on the cognitive mapping and mental imagery memory strategies. Apart from discussing the two memory strategies, two examples of how these memory strategies are applied on a day to day memory and decision-making process are explained at length.
Cognitive mapping strategy as pertained memory process is a technique that involves the use of the mental image of the attribute of the environment that helps in making the right judgments (Hardt, & Nadel, 2009). In other words, the cognitive technique of the memory process is concerned with the utilization of mental pictures that we form in our mind about the layout of the physical environment in making of appropriate judgments (Jacobs, & Schenk, 2003). One key characteristic of cognitive mapping technique is the elimination of irrelevant information to a given task in hand. In other words, the strategy involves giving direct attention to a task at hand where one explores the available data and deciding upon the most relevant content one needs in addressing the task at hand. In cognitive mapping, the association or rather the relationship between is crucial to learning of the physical environment (Jacobs, & Schenk, 2003). When exploring how to use the cognitive mapping strategy, it is recommended that only concrete objects should be incorporated into the map while abstract objects (information of lesser importance to a task at hand) be avoided. To successfully apply the cognitive mapping strategy the individual using the approach ought to have the capacity to recognize a location and the objects associated to it; make a correct prediction of the sequence; be in a position to decide what is right and bad and lastly actively explore the environment.
Mental imagery techniques also referred to as the visualization strategy entails remembering of idea and group of words using visual objects. Paying attention to pictures, images, photographs, charts, and even formulas might be more helpful than merely ignoring these visible objects. This technique involves the use of imagination in the learning and memory process without actually looking at what is being visualized. An excellent example of a visual method is where a student tries to remember the relationship of the different parts of the water cycle in a science subject and opts to draw a mental picture of clouds, raindrops, a water body, and vegetation without necessarily tying paying attention at the specific details of each. Pressley (1976) who studied the use of mental imagery among eight-year-old children posits that the strategy is more useful compared to giving them a passage to read and remember the content. Pressley (1976) concluded that by constructing mental pictures of the content they were learning, the students in her experiment were able to comprehend the material much better and recall the same in subsequent sessions. The mind is designed to remember and understand pictures much better compared to other forms of data (Bower, & Winzenz, 1970). This explains why study materials for children in lower grade are usually enriched with lots of pictures.
Cognitive mapping strategy has many applications in everyday life. When giving directions, for example, this strategy helps us to concentrate only on the important physical features (objects) such as buildings, trees, road signs among other concrete abstracts as opposed to concentrating on information that reveals little about the direction was given (O’keefe, & Nadel, 1978). The mind often takes multiple signals and cues from the environment that allows it to create a cognitive map to use while navigating unfamiliar terrain. In cases where we people go to a place there have not been for a while, they often make use of these signals and cues in coming up with a cognitive map of the environment. Apart from giving directions, cognitive maps have been used for years in the field of geography, education, planning, and architecture. In planning, for instance, critical attention is usually given on the key objects that are likely to have many implications.
On the other hand, mental imagery has gained prominence in the field of learning where learners are often encouraged to make use of visual objects to help them remember content being taught (Gambrell, & Jawitz, 1993). In lower primary education levels, instructors often make use of pictures to explain concepts to students who in ordinary circumstances won’t be in a position to understand what being is shown if the teachers relied much on words. When buying ingredients for a specific food, for example, a cake and we don’t have a recipe in hand, we often make use of mental imagery. Through visualization of a cake, how it is prepared, a person is likely to remember the exact number and mounts of ingredients they require.
Though several strategies have been proposed to aid in the process of encoding, storing and retrieval of information in a memory process, the discussion in this paper was restricted to cognitive mapping and mental imagery strategies. When giving directions or trying to remember directions, the cognitive mapping strategy posits the importance of paying attention to key physical objects as opposed to relying on lesser significant information. Elimination of irrelevant details such as the color of the building helps to concentrate on more relevant information that helps one come up with a cognitive map of the environment. Unlike cognitive mapping which is concerned much more with directions, mental imagery is much more useful in the learning process. Through visualizations, students have been found to remember concepts easily as opposed to trying to cram or grasp the whole content.
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