Once students comprehend information contained in a text, they must store this new knowledge in long-term memory, so they can retrieve it at a later time. For example, students might need to retrieve information the next day for a class discussion, the next week for a test, or the next semester to help them learn new information. A student’s long-term memory skills can greatly affect the ease with which he is able to consolidate and retrieve information.

Here are some strategies for enhancing students’ reading comprehension by focusing on long-term memory.

Helpful Hints

  • Introduce new text to students by reviewing what students have already learned about the topic.  
  • As a pre-reading activity, have students scan each chapter in their textbook before reading the chapter. For example, have them survey the text for introductions, headings, sub-headings, bold-face/italic type, key terms lists, a summary, conclusions, reading/learning goals, and repeated material.  
  • Teach students how to create useful notes that reinforce understanding and help to trigger information recall at a later time. For example:  
    • Help students learn how to pick out the salient, or important, information from class lectures and textbooks.  
    • Teach students to first synthesize notes from their reading and turn them into an outline, and then, to re-read the passage to modify the outline as needed.  
    • Introduce students to note-taking techniques that may help them with different types of reading materials. For example, a flow chart can be used to show causal relationships. Such a chart might be useful to illustrate narrative happenings in a story, events in history, procedural sequences in science, etc.  
    • Teach students how to create concept maps based on their reading, as one technique for consolidating and organizing what they’ve read. Have students save their maps, and use them as study tools for upcoming tests.  
    • Ask students to draw pictures representing a concept or topic from their reading, as a technique for reinforcing information and creating a trigger for later recall.  
  • Teach students to use self-questioning strategies. For example, as students read, have them develop a list of their own questions to answer. Convene class-wide or small group discussions based on students’ answers to the different questions they posed during their reading.  
  • Separate the time periods when students are reading a text from those used for studying or reviewing the text.  
  • Teach students how to use self-testing techniques. Encourage them to use self-testing as a guide to determine which information they have mastered and which needs more attention.