In this lesson, learn what rote memorization is. Also, discover the different memorization techniques you can use in your classroom as well as examples of each.

What Is Rote Memorization?

Rote memorization is a learning process that involves repeating information until it’s remembered verbatim. Actors and singers often use rote memorization when they have to learn the lines of a play or a song. Students also use rote memorization to prepare for spelling tests or to memorize definitions of terms, names of presidents, verb forms in a foreign language, and multiplication tables, among other things. Rote memorization is different from meaningful learning, where the material is applied to other ideas and connections are made between concepts.

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There are many different techniques that can be utilized to help memorization. Let’s look at a few examples:

  • Acronyms can aid in memorization. You can create an acronym by taking the first letter of several words and using them to form one new, easy-to-remember word. For example, HOMES is an acronym often used to remember the Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior).
  • Chain mnemonics are phrases and sentences where the first letter of each word reflects the order of something.

    For example, the first letter of each word in the sentence ‘Every good boy does fine’ represents the order of the lines on the treble clef in music (EGBDF).

  • Rhyming is another form of chain mnemonic. Most of us are familiar with the old rhyme ‘i before e except after c,’ which helps us remember the correct spelling of words like ‘receive’ and ‘receipt.’
  • Part learning is a method that involves breaking the material up into parts, or short lists. This is helpful when there’s an extensive amount of material to be memorized.
  • Distributed practice is a method of breaking the practice sessions into smaller chunks of time, distributed over a period of hours or days.

    For example, the first part of a play is memorized in one session, the next part in the subsequent session, and so on. This strategy is the opposite of ‘cramming’ or ‘massed practice’ in a single session.

Lesson Summary

Let’s review. Rote memorization is a learning process that involves repeating information until it’s remembered verbatim. Techniques used to aid in memorization include acronyms, chain mnemonics, part learning, and distributed practice.

Rote memorization has its place in learning, but the distinction between rote learning and meaningful learning is important. The goal of teaching is for students to understand the material they’re being asked to learn, not simply to memorize it to pass a test. Students should be taught the difference between these two types of learning.


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