Mnemonics are word tricks to help enrich and encode information to be
memorized and then help to maximize recall. A mnemonic is
when a meaningful word is created from the first letter of each word that is to
be memorized or learned.
Mnemonics work because learning research indicates that the more richly we
encode information, the more easily we can retrieve that information when
needed. They also involve chunking and organizing of content (also effective
An example would be ROY G. BIV as a term for remembering the order of the colors
in a rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet)* Or the word
HOMES to represent the names of the great lakes in the United States—Huron,
Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior.
An example from industry is the word “whip” which is “W-I-P” formed from the
first three letters of the words Work-In-Process. Another example is the word
PERT which is the first letter from each of the words Program Evaluation Review
Technique. PERT is a method of project management using a project network
diagram. In instructional design we talk about the ADDIE model of instructional
design—Analysis, Design, Development Implementation and Evaluation, sometimes we
call it the MADDIE model by adding Management to the beginning of the acronym.
Using mnemonics is a simple technique and backed by research. They are
effective. You probably still remember mnemonics from grade school.
Unfortunately, the technique is severely underutilized. In a study of 14
different pharmaceutical training programs created by six different vendors, no
mnemonics where found in any of the courses.
Eidetic memory (Photographic memory) found in 5% children. These children can
remember an entire page of writing in an unfamiliar language after only seeing
it for a short period of time. Only a few have eidetic memory in adulthood.