Human and Memory: How Much Do We Remember What We Learn?

Voiced by Amazon Polly


In the article, we will share scientific data about memory and how much of what we have learned? We will look for an answer to the question. What should we do to not forget what we have learned? We will discuss the question.

One of the issues I have the most trouble as a teacher is that students quickly forget much of what they learn. According to Hermann Ebbinghaus, we forget 56% of what we learn in the first hour, 66% in the first day, and 75% in six days. In other words, all of our efforts are to make 25% of what we tell permanent.

“What should be done to prevent such a high forgetting rate or to make it easier to remember?”

Teachers have recognized that in the 21st century, rote learning is no longer useful but short-term recall, and they are looking for new useful methods. For example, two neuroscientists named Blake Richards and Paul Frankland oppose the common memory view that forgetting is a loss. They reveal that memory is not a process about storing information correctly, contrary to popular belief. According to Richards and Frankland, memory is a process about experience.

Every experience we live is processed by memory, whether we like it or not, and it affects our choices. In other words, memory is not like a regular library that allows us to get the book we want when we need it, as it has been compared for years; it behaves like web spiders that collect every data indiscriminately.

Memory of Human

Memory of Human

According to the discovery, what we read years ago; Even the book, in which we do not remember the sequence of events, their characters or even the subject, affects our choices with the experience it gave us in time. The book adds this experience to us by appealing to our five senses, creating the magic that the person who lives the event is the reader. It is possible to think the same about the lessons at school. The more senses study a subject, the more experience gained and the easier it is to remember.

The important thing here is to create a multi-stimulating educational environment and not to do things that will prevent the child from learning by increasing the cognitive load. Because of the curriculum and exams, it is not possible to prepare multi-stimulating education situations for every subject, but at least better designing or interpreting the activities in the textbooks is a method that will increase the percentage of students to remember what they have learned.


It is important to know that not all memories or learnings are stored in the same way. For example,



Take the words nrmok and carrot. Remembering the second word is easier because it allows us to make meaningful connections. The word carrot hooks into the reader’s memory with its color, smell and even memories about carrots. It also becomes easier to remember. In this respect, new information should be taught with as many connections as possible.

“Remember, everything is stored in our memory and affects our choices, even if we are not aware of it. During psychoanalysis, a client tells that while talking about his daily life, he bought a rose-patterned mat. The expert suddenly discovers that the rose object is encoded negatively in the client’s memory in a remembrance he lived with his mother years ago. The fact that the client likes this object on an object they chew on every day reveals that every learning affects our choices, even on simple matters such as choosing a mat.”

In order to make lasting connections carefully, it is necessary to reinforce the five senses with memories through carefully prepared educational situations.


Richard Cho, a MIT neuroscientist, talks about the mechanism of synaptic enhancement in a 2015 article. Accordingly, the more frequently the neurons fire, the better the recall performance of our memory. We can convey that this is why Alzheimer’s patients are solved puzzles. Even a stored and fading information according to the article is refreshed when it is repeated and accessed again. Therefore, repeating the topics covered at regular intervals can also ensure that the learning is permanent.

Experiences and Dialogues

Experiences and Dialogues

Meantime, I should state that reading qualified poems based on the Turkish teaching that I am an expert in, can be as efficient as a puzzle in firing neurons. Because in poetry, phrases such as “blue separation”, which consists of words that have never been thought of side by side before, create connections between neurons that have never been established before and synapses collide. Of course, the quality of the poem is also important in this regard. The works of James Joyce Un are beautiful examples that embody the situation I am describing. If you would like to know more about what poetry means. Assoc. Dr. You can review Nihat BAYAT’s articles.

In addition to these explanations, I will list a few more methods that can be used below, based on personal experiences and articles I read.



People remember 30% of what they read, 20% of what they heard, 30% of what they saw. 50% of what they both see and hear… Even 80% of what they see, hear and say… But if they see, hear, say and touch, this rate goes up to 90%. This is why the multi-stimulus learning environment, which we mentioned above while talking about experiences, is recommended. There are few stimulants in our classes. For this reason, teaching the lessons after writing on the blackboard at least as in the past, waiting for the students to write what is on the board can increase the permanence of the learning as it enables them to write as well as stimulate their hearing and sight.

Handwriting of the students also adds their memory to the process, and thanks to the pen, their sense of touch is also used. Of course, this is not the perfect way, but considering the subjects to be taught and exam conditions, this can be considered as a way to try.


Peer to Peer Learning

Peer to Peer Learning

This method, known to every teacher, is a method that allows two friends to teach each other new things by helping each other in the subjects they are lacking. Using the peer to peer learning effectively in the lessons will increase the interaction of the child with both his / her friends and thus will make his / her memory more work. We should know that the learning involving remembrance memory tends to be permanent.


It is not possible for every acquired knowledge to turn into a product or result. Some information may not turn into a performance or result. This does not mean that that information has not been learned. The behaviorism movement claims the opposite and always expects a success or a result from the learner. It does not perceive learning as a process, therefore it has lost its importance in the 21st century. However, repetition, which is one of the most important features of behaviorism, still maintains its importance.

However, new methods that can be tried for repetition have been discovered. Gap effect can be defined as the teacher repeating what he/she told every two or three weeks or assigning homework for this. It is an ideal method to refresh fading information.


Frequent testing keeps students away from grade anxiety and competition, allowing the subject to be repeated with games. Questions related to the subject matter are asked through gamification, especially with digital teaching tools, and a comfortable repetition is ensured in a safe environment free of anxiety.


When repeating a learning, it is the job of teaching by breaking the order, not the order of explaining that learning. Thus, different recall hooks will be formed between the learnings and the subject will be engraved in the student’s memory with new connections.


By interpreting the available information into a table or visual, it will remind students of the information they need to understand while interpreting these tables or images, and they will be provided with an interactive contribution to the teaching process by using table and visual creation assignments.


Multi Stimulus Learning

Multi Stimulus Learning

The most important time period for a child is the period of time between the ages of 0 and 7 that he spends with his/her family, even before school. It is possible to find dozens of research articles that demonstrate that children who have magazines, newspapers and books in their homes are more successful academically than their peers in the future and have a higher level of thinking skills. Families should show them as many stimuli as they can, show them around as much as they can, and ensure that they get age-appropriate experiences of the world at an early age.







Leave a Reply