Elaboration – one of the top six learning techniques

I am currently suffering from pain on the right-hand side of my face. This blog is not for sympathy, though I am always up for that, but the diagnosis was one I was having difficulty remembering. This may be because I am getting older or the pain…

I phoned my doctor as she asked me to keep her updated on how I was feeling and she prescribed additional medication. But when I was trying to tell her what the issue was, the name of the condition, I kept wanting to call it scabies. It is not that but I could not remember the name. I knew it was the adult form of chicken pox. Many of you will now realise the word I wanted was shingles!

So as soon she said “shingles” I knew that was the diagnosis she had given me a couple of days ago. I could recognise the word but recalling was a difficulty.

The solution is to use elaboration. In this case, I linked the viral condition shingles to roof tiles which when made of wood are called shingles.

Elaboration is adding a richer description to something that one is finding it difficult to remember. I now think of having the “roof covering condition”. Sounds silly but “shingles” is now reasonably simple to recall. The fact that it is odd, weird makes the elaboration more effective a learning tool. And the concept of “roof” is very firmly secured in my long-term memory. It is pretty easily accessible.

Brain-wise I imagine this gives me a second route into the name of the condition.

If your children are having difficulty recalling then you might want to explain this process to them so that can create elaborations to support their learning.