Memory is multifaceted and task-contingent. A student may have a good memory for certain tasks, like remembering numbers, but a poor memory for other tasks, such as remembering names. Furthermore, many students are unaware of their specific memory abilities. Therefore, it is essential that students evaluate their memory abilities so that an appropriate suite of memory strategies can be developed. Such assessments are best made by professionals, but the two procedures described below may help to make a partial evaluation of memory abilities (Herrmann, Raybeck and Gutman, 1993, p. 23-29) .
The purposes of the memory evaluation tools are two-fold. First, the tools increase awareness of memory performance and give students a clearer picture of how their memory performs in everyday life. Second, the tools provide a means by which relevant and realistic goals for memory improvement may be established.
The two memory evaluation procedures are memory questionnaires and memory diaries (Herrmann, Raybeck and Gutman, 1993).
Memory questionnaires address four types of memory tasks: knowledge, events, intentions, and actions.
A sample memory questionnaire is given below.
To complete the memory questionnaire, follow these steps:
- Imagine you are on a game show and are being asked questions about the listed topics.
- Indicate whether or not you have been exposed to the subject in school, work, etc. by circling "Yes" or "No."
- For all the "Yes" topics, estimate how often you would be unable to remember the answer to a question using the numbers 1 (never forget) through 7 (always forget). Write the number on the blank next to the corresponding topic.
- Take The Memory Questionnaire
Memory diaries also address knowledge, events, intentions, and actions.
With this form of evaluation, students keep track of memory failures in specific tasks. For example, they record when they forgot a name, an appointment, or a piece of information on an exam.
To use a memory diary, follow these steps:
- Select memory tasks to be documented. Suggested types of information to record in the diary are given below. Add or subtract tasks as needed.
- Use a piece of notebook paper or a 3 x 5 card to make a template for recording memory failures.
- Xerox the template 14 to 28 times so you can record memory failures for several weeks. One month of records is preferred, and at least one week of records is suggested. Mark your records as soon after the failure as possible.
- Each time something on the list is forgotten, put a check mark next to the relevant task and record a short note about circumstances or how to avoid the memory failure in the future. Mark your records as soon after the failure as possible.
- After keeping the diary for some time, evaluate your memory performance:
- Tally how many things were forgotten for each type of task.
- Consider how often you faced a particular memory task every day; a high number of failures may be related, in part, to a high number of encounters with the task daily.
- For each of the tasks, rate your memory performance on a 7-point scale with 1 being a high proportion of failures per attempts and 7 being a low proportion.
- Record the ratings in the diary.
- Record the ratings on the memory questionnaire.
Suggested memory tasks to record in the memory diary.
- Knowledge - You forget some information you learned while in school, at work, or in some other situation.
- Events- Events include recent data, names of people you know, and recent events.
- Recent Data - For example, you need to remember a phone number or an address you just read out of the phone book moments before, but you find that you have forgotten some or all of what you wanted to remember and must check the book again.
- Names You Know - You are unable to recall the names of a people you know.
- Recent Events - You forget details of a movie, show, or some event while discussing it with other people who also observed the event.
- Intentions - Intentions include forgetting to do or bring something.
- Forgot What to Do - You were supposed to bring something to class but you forget what it is.
- Forgot What to Bring - After leaving your room, you discover that you must go back for something, perhaps a book, that you had intended to bring but left behind.
- Try The Memory Diary