Mnemonics refers to relating new information to what students have already learned through verbal and visual cues. A mnemonic also refers to any memory-enhancing strategy. Researchers have studied mnemonics and students with learning disabilities in both one-on-one experiments and in a classroom setting. There were several findings from studies with mnemonics and students with learning disabilities. The following are according to Hallahan, Kauffman, & Pullen, 2015.
- Small groups of students with learning disabilities could be taught using a variety of mnemonic strategies over a period of days without diminishing the effectiveness of the specific mnemonics.
- Mnemonic pictures aided in the comprehension and recall of information presented in science and history texts.
- Students with learning disabilities could be taught to create there own mnemonics and apply them successfully.
- Students with learning and behavior disorders benefited from teacher-created mnemonics and were able to retain the information longer than students who were not provided the mnemonics.
- Mnemonics appeared to result in increased motivation, efficacy, and willingness to learn.
Within mnemonics there are three specific methods for how to teach it or use it. These include keyword strategy, pegword strategy, and letter strategies. Many of us are most familiar with the letter strategy, which uses acronyms or letters to represent each full word. An example of this would be PEMDAS - Which stands for the mathematical order of operations in solving problems - Parenthesis, Exponent,
Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction.
The keyword strategy involves using one vocabulary word and pictorial representation to help remember a more difficult vocabulary word. One example would be the word ranidae, which is the scientific word for common frogs. The teacher would use the word rain, and then a picture of a frog hopping in the rain.
"Pegwords refer to a set of rhyming words that are used to stand for numbers" (AdLit.org). This method is most helpful for students in remembering information in a certain order. A common example is with numbers: "one is bun, two is show, three is tree, four is door, five is hive, and so on and so forth. The words are put in place of the numbers to help students remember other relevant information.
While a strategy like this can be very useful in almost any content area, it can be particularly useful in science. As shown in the video above with the example of planets, there are many science concepts and topics that mnemonic devices can help with. Some include the scientific method, states of matter, parts of a cell, and many others! The reason science is such a great content area to use this strategy in is because a teacher can use either of the three mnemonic methods described above, and many times put it into song form with actions as well.