Educational mnemonics: learning through meaning

I’ve learned many things while studying forensic psychology, and have found some topics more meaningful than others.


I study forensic psychology, and have been studying for a while now. I’ve learned many things, and have found some topics more meaningful than others. One advantage of finding meaning in topics I am learning about, is that I tend to remember things better. Moreover, I tend to study and debate topics with my study buddy, yet we both realised that even with such extracurricular study sessions, it is easy to forget much of the content at times. This has led me to question the importance of mnemonics in education; however, my research on the matter is nowhere complete, and I still have a lot more to learn about human memory before I can answer such types of questions. 

As it turns out, human memory is an aspect of cognition which is highly relevant in psychology. In forensic psychology, memory plays a crucial part in many procedures of the criminal justice system. It also has much to say in regards to psychopathology. One of the most researched topics in forensic psychology are personality disorders, due to how these seem to be very prevalent in forensic settings. 

Personality disorders tend to involve a distortion in self-image and autobiographical memory. I find this area super fascinating, especially since I myself have been diagnosed with a personality disorder. 

Another aspect of psychopathology where human memory tends to play a huge role is the understanding of psychotic spectrum disorders, and this happens to be my comorbidity. 

As a student of forensic psychology with mental health problems, I keep wondering what I can do to better memorise the information I am learning. So far, revising has proven to work; and sometimes writing assessments helps to consolidate the information too. It is the topics that do not get assessed, and which I personally do not find particularly meaningful that are the hardest ones to remember. 

Another technique which I have found helpful when it comes to academic mnemonics is to read a book about a topic within the curriculum. For instance, I found that reading about narcissism helped me consolidate the topic of self-esteem; and to this day I continue to reinforce such a knowledge. Yet, the most meaningfully learned topics have been those with which I am able to explain aspects of my life that have to do with injustice or trauma. Especially if I can somehow incorporate the academic concepts into my episodic and autobiographical memories. 

For example, there have been times in my life when people have assumed that some of my behaviours were a result of my personality; rather than noticing that such behaviours were influenced by external factors, such as the environment, events, and other people. In forensic psychology, we call this a fundamental attribution error. This was one of the most meaningful topics I ever have learned and I have expanded my knowledge on the matter to understand unconscious prejudice, social cognition, and how cognitive biases can lead to human rights violations. 

It was because I felt that a fundamental attribution error had happened somewhere in my journey, that I found it easy to remember it as meaningful, and therefore I encoded it with passion. 

Likewise, different students might find different topics meaningful; and might be able to apply the things they learn to their autobiographical and episodic memories. 


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