This is the 2007 version. Click here for the 2017 chapter 06 table of contents.

Cue Sheets Help

One way to organize memory for later retrieval is to draw up a summary of it that provides cues for recalling more detailed information. Tulving (1974) explained that forgetting is due to the absence of appropriate retrieval cues. It is based on the insight that retrieval is the weak link in memory. When we forget something, it is not because the memory is gone forever. It is because we do not know how to retrieve it. If we are given a reminder (a cue) the memory comes back.

What causes forgetting? How does a "crib sheet" help memory even if it is not used during an exam?

The best way to overcome cue-dependent forgetting is to develop a system for generating your own cues. Clever teachers sometimes facilitate this process by allowing their students to prepare a one-page crib sheet (an old-fashioned term for a "cheat sheet" crammed with information). Students are allowed to use the crib sheet during a final exam. By the time the students have gone to the trouble of drawing up the crib sheet, they hardly need it, because the information is well organized and therefore accessible to memory.

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