Several information organization strategies are helpful in religion courses. Hierarchical organizers (arrays), flash cards, summary sheets, and matrices are illustrated here.
Hierarchies / Arrays
Genealogies, pantheons of gods, and sacred texts are examples of information suited to hierarchical organizers.
Prepare flash cards for terms, events, and names covered in class or in the book. When studying the completed flash cards, work both ways: look at the word and give the definition and religion, then look at the definition and give the word. Sample flash cards are given below.
One way to organize information about a religion is to compile a one-page summary sheet (E. Granitsas, M. Hartman, J. Scheltz, CAL). Summary sheets for several religions also may be organized into matrices for comparing and contrasting the religions. Types of information to include on the summary sheet are:
Another use of summary sheets is to compile Bible passage lists and interpretations (E. Granitsas, J. Scheltz, CAL). The summary sheets should include:
Time lines are useful for organizing the main historical events in the life of a religious figure or in the development of a religion. The time line example below covers major biblical events.
Symmetrical and nonsymmetrical matrices are useful for organizing religion information. Matrices provide another way to organize the types of information on summary sheets. Matrix ideas are provided below: the first is a matrix template for comparing and contrasting the world's major religions and the second is a completed matrix of the schools of Buddhism (E. Granitsas, CAL).
Loci or House of Memory
The loci or house of memory strategy is one type of technical manipulation, meaning it is based on a structure that one must memorize ahead of time. To remember a list of items, imagine the room layout of a familiar building and put one item from the list in each of the rooms. Your "house of memory" can be a home, church, office building, a town, or a landscape, as long as the locus is easy to remember and visualize. While mental images of the memory loci are sufficient, the student may wish to sketch the loci and associated items. For example, to remember Hindu gods one might develop the following house of memory (D. Applegate, CAL).
Another form of technical manipulation is the PEG-Words strategy. It is used when memorizing lists of information that must remain in a certain numerical order (i.e. item #1 in the list must go first, then item #2, etc.).
The pegwords strategy makes use of key words and visual associations in order to remember items in a list. Pegwords are the words used to remember the number of an item in the list. They are words that are easily remembered and visualized (e.g. 1=sun, 2=shoe, 3=tree, etc.). The pegwords are then associated with the key words for each item in the list.
An example of the pegwords strategy for remembering the commandments is given below (REFERENCE).
In addition to organizational and memory strategies, students may prepare for religion tests using study groups, study guides, and practice questions.
Work with other students in the class to prepare for tests. Divide the readings among members of the study group and have each member provide summaries or outlines of the readings. Compare lecture notes to insure accuracy and completeness. Share memory strategies or ideas for organizing information. Have each member of the study group contribute completed organizational aids like flash cards, matrices, or hierarchies for different chapters or major topics. Take turns teaching the material to other members of the study group. Work together to compile a study guide listing everything you need to know for the test. Have each member make up practice questions, which the group can answer together or use to quiz each other.
Study guides provide an organized summary of the information to be learned for an exam. They are used to guide or structure one's test preparation sessions. The information on a study guide may arranged in a number of formats: outline form, by subject or major topic, or by type of information. An example of the latter format is given below (D. Applegate, CAL).
STUDY GUIDE FOR TEST 2
Working individually or with a study group, make up and answer practice questions in order to prepare for an exam. First find out what types of questions (essay, fill-in, identification, true-false, etc.) will be asked on the test. Then use the notes, book, and study guides to write these types of questions.
If the lecture notes were recorded using the Cornell method, use the recall column to write questions. In the book, try turning headings, illustrations, and bold words into questions, or look for review questions at the end of each chapter.
After answering the sample questions, focus on ways of remembering the information. For essays, organize the answer in some rememberable format like an outline, a matrix, or a mind map. Examples of practice questions are provided below (E. Granitsas, CAL).