Metamemory is the self-awareness of one’s own memory, it refers to an individual’s awareness of how they store, regulate, and process memory. The human memory allows us to recall and remember things; we often strive to recall items as students during examinations, metamemory is the mechanism by which we acquire and retain this memory. The self-awareness of one’s own memory processes is of special concern to students because success in education hinges on the ability to remember taught concepts. The more one is aware of their memory structures, the more one can make better judgment about their ability to recall information. For instance, students constantly make decisions on whether they have studied the necessary coursework to pass the exams; these types of decisions indicate an awareness of one's own memory structures (Nelson, 1990).
There are several important theories in the study of the self-awareness of one’s own memory. One of the theories focusses on people’s ability to understand and answer questions. One of the ways we access our memory is through questions that we answer with information stored in memory. The cure familiarity hypothesis states that the question is more important than the actual memory in the self-awareness of one’s own memory (Koriat, 2001). The familiarity with the question (cue) is more important than the memory itself. People are more likely to state that they know the answer to a question if they understand and are familiar with the terms of the question; however, if the question has new and unfamiliar terms people are more likely to state that they do not have the answer (Koriat, 2001).
Another important theory is the competition hypothesis. The competition hypothesis states that the brain system is activated by visual input; these visual inputs are always in competition for processing access. When there is a high level of competition by visual inputs for the processing access, one has poor recall of memory (Nelson, 1990). The competition hypothesis sheds light on why multitasking while studying tends to yield poor results for a majority of people.
One of the ways of assessing the self-awareness of one’s own memory is through ease of learning judgments. Scientists assess ease of learning by providing the subject with material to learn, the scientists evaluate beforehand how much studying, and memory recall is necessary for one to grasp the materials. Based on the amount of time and the effort the subject spends understanding the core material, the scientists can make metamemory assessments (Nelson, 1990).
Another way to assess the self-awareness of one’s own memory is through ease of recognition judgments. Individuals in an ease of recognition test have a list of words; they then make judgments on the ability to recall the words as new or old in a recognition test. Based on the ability to recall the words, one can determine the self-awareness of their memory.
The self-awareness of one's memory includes the feeling of knowing. Feeling of knowing is the judgment all people make regarding their ability to recall information. Before recalling something from memory, we first assess whether the knowledge exists in the memory (Shimamura, 1986). Most of the times one can correctly deduce that they have the knowledge and proceed to retrieve it, it is also possible for an individual to judge that they have a certain memory only to stumble when retrieving the information. Scientists can assess the self-awareness of one’s memory by observing feeling of knowing judgments (Shimamura, 1986).
The ability to assess the self-awareness of one’s memory correctly is especially important to students as it can help them optimize the way they study for better results. The self-awareness test that I designed for myself includes a list of twenty words; I made a friend pick the words and had no knowledge of them beforehand. Before viewing the words, I made judgments on my ability to recall the words after two minutes of viewing them; I predicted that I could remember all the words. My friend then presented the list of words to me for two minutes and then took away the paper; I then had to list the words from memory as my friend wrote the recalled words down. By comparing the judgment’s I made about my ability to recall the word and the actual results, I could assess the self-awareness of my memory.
In the memory self-awareness test, I was able to recall fourteen out of twenty words. Considering that, I predicted that I could recall all twenty words; the test indicates that I have a poor self-awareness of how I process, store, and recall memory. However, the silver lining is that it is possible to improve metamemory along with the ability to recall information (Nelson, 1990).
One of the ways to improve the ability to recall information is through mnemonics. Mnemonics include abbreviations, mental images, rhymes and many other techniques used to assist an individual in remembering. Mnemonics can help one become a better student and improve all other aspects of life by improving one’s ability to recall important information such as phone numbers, names, and addresses.
A mnemonic tactic that would have helped me to recall the list of words is by taking the first letter of each of the words and making an abbreviation then creating a story that links together the letters and helps me to recall the information. For instance to remember the colors of the rainbow the first step is separating the colors into one abbreviation such as R,O,Y, G,B,I,V. Then the story involving the letters can be "Richard of York gained battle in vain". It is much easier to remember the story statement than the list of words. By remembering the interesting statement regarding the letters, one can always recall that the colors of the rainbow are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.
Mnemonics, fully implemented in my life, would make me a better student with better grades. It would also make my life much easier I would be able to make better judgments because I can recall information more accurately.
Koriat. (2001). The combined contributions of the cue familiarity and accessibility heuristics to feelings of knowing. Journal of Experimental Psychology Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 34–53.
Nelson. (1990). Metamemory: A theoretical framework and new findings. The Psychology of Learning and Motivation, Academic Press, 125–173.
Shimamura. (1986). Memory and Metamemory: A study of the feeling-of-knowing phenomenon in amnesic patients. Journal of experimental psychology. Learning, memory, and cognition, 452–460.