Visual Mnemonics: Does the Method of Loci Improve the Learning of Lists?

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1139 Words
Date:  2022-03-29

Mnemonics is the study of aiding and improving the memory systems. Cognitive psychologists have argued that they impose structure and meaning to material that may be assumed hollow and unstructured. It dates back to the prehistoric times when a majority of the early scholars and philosophers were recording and giving speeches. Recent studies have categorized mnemonics into three broad categories, i.e., the visual, verbal and the keyword methods. Visual mnemonics techniques that include the loci and peg-word take a cue of the well-grounded fact that human memory remembers images easily. Through the visuals, one can easily form and associate mental images that result in the prompt recalling of information. More specifically, the method of Loci (MOL) commonly referred to as the loci technique over time has proven to improve the learning list. This method based on the premise that a person can promptly remember places they are acquainted with and thus can link what they ought or need to remember vividly, the location serves as a clue to help recall the information needed (Belleza, 1986).

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Many scholars have approved MOL as the best method of improving memory retention given its ease and suitability to users of all demographics among them being students. According to social psychologists Eleanor A. Maguire in her journal Routes to remembering: the brains behind superior memory, nine out of ten superior memoirists used the method of loci in their rehearsal (Maguire, 2003). Based on this proposition in mind it would be prudent to argue that application of MOL points to maximize comprehension and retention of learning done thus improving learning among its users.

A recent study by the American Physiology Society explored the effectiveness of MOL on medical students gauging by their results before and after they practiced it and their ability to recall concepts that are associated with diabetes mellitus (DM) and insulin. The physiologist sought to understand whether there was an overall mnemonic method that can influence the students' performance, whether students under the method of MOL performed better, and whether MOL could encourage the student's interest thus stimulating active readership and learning (Society, 2014).

The study comprised a total of 78 students. At first, all the students were taught Diabetes mellitus and insulin by two traditional dons using the didactic method (Society, 2014). Later 28 students were randomly picked and taught using the MOL method. The rest studied the same topic and completed the study in class. The MOL training comprised three personal sessions conducted by the same students to encourage peer learning. After the learning, all the 78 students went a single and uniform assessment comprising questions and multiple answers basically to compare the academic performance. Additionally, a questionnaire with nine items was issued to the 28 students who participated in MOL to provide an experience and feedback on the technique. After the test, the results were analyzed with statistical significance emerging at P<0.05. After tabulation of the results, the entire 28 (100%) student who participated in the MOL found it helpful. At least 90% were found to remember things better after studying MOL with the 7.1% remain neutral about the finding. 85% agreed to have comprehended the topic better while 14.3% were silent. A majority of the89.3% agreed to use MOL more on their studies. More profoundly, a majority (85.7%) of the 28 students believed and pegged their good performance on MOL while the rest disagreed. An overall performance indicated that dictate lectures followed by interactive learning using method of Loci compared with self-learning under supervision, students excelled more as shown by the increasingly correct answers by learners using MOL (Society, 2014).

The element that students using Loci performed better on the assessment than the rest of the students working on worksheets indicates that MOL leads to better comprehension and retention hence improved learning. More notably, the desire of the learners under MOL to educate other on the same proves the efficiency of loci as a way of improving performance. It is also important to underscore that MOL encourages learning through the simple content that can easily be remembered by all the learners solving any unique problem (Society, 2014).

Scholar D. U. Silverthorn, who strongly advocates for the interactive learning environments notes that the learners should be having some basic knowledge by the time they enter the classroom. That points out on the need to understand our environment (loci) for better learning. He argued that knowledge gained and stored in this way is easily recalled, that is, the knowledge is meaningfully integrated with that which a leaner knows (Du, 2006).

The method of loci when used as a tool of visual imagery, it enhances the recall rate of verbal material especially those which are complex a fact that upholds the course of improved learning. This finding supports the argument that it is possible a leaner can grasp long paragraphs, theories, and other excerpts and not merely single words. Psychologist Craik observed that as verbal learning becomes increasingly attractive, scholars continue to abandon the conventional world lists and syllables for analysis of stories, paragraphs, and sentences; which is more interesting. It would also be important to note that normative ratings alter memory for several quotes adding that MOL can make it better.

Antagonists of the MOL argue that one can still or fail to recall all the required information adding that it only minimizes forgetting, a premise away from the truth. Research has shown MOL assures nearly 100% memories. Additionally, they hold that for Loci method is not for day to day activities as one may be required to assign visual for everything or aspect they to remember. On the contrary, since loci use figures and items the learner is used to, it is easier for them to recall without confusion or becoming tired.


Conclusively, it is clear that the Method of Loci improves learning by not only forming long-lasting files in a learner's memory, but it also forms new packages where new information is 'hung.' Its retrieval is less tiresome or tedious as the focus is shifted to applying the retrieved information hence an efficient problem-solving. Learning becomes faster and interesting. Nonetheless, there is a strong argument refuting the benefits of the method. It is the idea that MOL only reduces chances of forgetting facts that have been learned but does not enhance faster learning. This school of thought see the focus of the method as retention rather than acquisition of knowledge. Notably, knowledge retention is a crucial element of progressive learning, so by enhancing it, MOL improves the cognitive process of learning in general.


Belleza, E. (1986). Mnemonic devices: classification, characteristics and criteria. Reviewof Educational Reseach, 247-275.

Du, S. (2006). Teaching and learning in the interactive classroom. Adv Physiol Educ, 135-140.

Maguire EA1, V. E. (2003). Routes to remembering:the brains behind the superior memory. Nat Neurosci 6, 90-95.

Society, A. P. (2014). The method of loci as a mnemonic device to facilitate learning. Advances in physiology education, 140-144.

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Visual Mnemonics: Does the Method of Loci Improve the Learning of Lists?. (2022, Mar 29). Retrieved from

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