UWC students learn memory techniques as exams approach

14 November 2017 - 13:13 By Mandela Namaste
University of the Western Cape Great Hall. File photo.
University of the Western Cape Great Hall. File photo.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

With final exams around the corner and the perennial study grind making memorisation a very difficult task‚ the University of the Western Cape (UWC) has come up with a novel way to help students. The university's Centre for Student Support Services (CSSS) secured the services of Guinness World Record holder David Thomas.

Thomas‚ who has memorised thousands of digits of pi‚ led an interactive workshop and taught 400 students several techniques for strengthening their memories.

“Students are on the cusp of writing their final examinations‚ and one of the most reported challenges for students when accessing student support is memory and concentration‚ which can severely compromise academic performance‚” said CSSS director Dr Laetitia Permall.

According to a statement by the university‚ people's memories are getting weaker – in part because we rely on technology like Wikipedia for information and Facebook to remember birthdays.

In one notable exercise‚ Thomas made students memorise and recall a list of 25 words. “It’s much like going to the gym – you can build your memory like you build your muscles. To be successful at learning new memory techniques‚ gradual integration is key‚” Thomas said.

Law student Dainne Lamson said the workshop was ''a lot more'' than he had expected.

“I thought it would just be a course‚ and we did learn techniques and devices – but it was more motivational than anything else‚ which was really useful‚” said Lamson.

Non-students can also benefit. Thomas boasts that these techniques can apply to all walks of life.

“There are always benefits‚ whether you are a full-time student or a worker in a formal employment. One can apply this in your business‚ or memorising speeches and presentations – and you’re able to stand up and speak without any notes‚ or product or client details.”