Click here for "Jogging the Memory" - an article on Mastering Memory by Sally McKeown
"Mastering Memory is a computer program which is much more than a game. It is a flexible, structured teaching tool used to improve visual and auditory short-term memory.
Sequences of pictures and/or words are presented for a set period of time and then the student has to recreate the same arrangement. There are four levels of difficulty with a variety of pictures. The sequence of pictures, the number of objects, speed of presentation and complexity of the sequence can be altered to suit the individual.
Students are encouraged to improve observation skills and consider their learning mode and strategies for transferring information into long-term memory. Support is needed while the program is being used as the teacher needs to discuss these strategies with the student.
I have used Mastering Memory with students of all ages (including adults). The program is easy to use and is FUN. The use of a metacognitive approach where students are taught how memory works and how to develop alternative strategies has been proved to work with people with dyslexia: I have found Mastering Memory has improved input to short-term memory and transfer to long-term memory. It is to be highly recommended."
Glenys Heap, Principal of the Dyslexia Institute Centres in Nottingham and Leicester.
From Dyslexia Review, Summer 1998
"Underlying weakness of memory are a contributory factor in more cases of learning difficulty than many of us realise, so a program for training visual and auditory memory could be an exciting addition to the bag of tools deployed by professionals or parents working with those with learning difficulties. Many children with memory problems believe that there is nothing they can do to improve their performance - a view frequently confirmed by off-the-cuff remarks made by adults. Mastering Memory proves otherwise.
Mick Archer, writing in Special Children
I have been meaning to let you know how brilliant 'Mastering Memory' is. I am using it with children in an Infant Speech and Language Unit who are thoroughly enjoying the challenge. The boy for whom I purchased it, is doing particularly well and this has had the hoped-for knock-on effect on his reading ability. The more we use it, the more we feel that it will prove to be a very useful addition to our other activities.
I often find that things that seem a good idea, are disappointing in practice. This is not so of Mastering Memory. I really think that you have done very well to produce something that both adults and children enjoy doing. We are finding that the children are sometimes better than we are at some activities and it has made us all think more carefully about the strategies that we are using when we need to remember!
A dyslexia teacher in Dorset, Mr J.D. Heywood, reporting on progress with one of his adult students, says
"This man had received tuition from a previous tutor for 29 years but could neither read nor write. I used the structured approach of the Dyslexia Institute's Literacy program as the skeleton on which to base my lessons. It became only too apparent that "Luke" was unable to retain information in working memory, for even the shortest period of time. He put the utmost effort into attempting to fulfil whatever was asked of him, he was not easily distracted and remained on task, even when there was no hope of any recall.
Despite my best endeavours, (and advice from professionals), progress was not only slow but very patchy. Gradually more letters were added to his knowledge base, but quite often they became interchangeable, especially the vowels. Luke could read two letter words accurately, three letter words well (until the third vowel was introduced), and on a good day the occasional longer word. Handwriting was progressing, but spelling was variable in accuracy. I had tried a whole range of memory games, both verbal and visual, but was becoming dangerously close to exasperation with the impermanence of working memory improvement.
Then in 1998 I came across Mastering Memory. Having briefed Luke on the Level 1 module and discussed the desired outcomes, I introduced the program. After the first input, to say he was enthusiastic would be an understatement...he regards the program as a challenge and would use it each lesson. He is keen to move on to the next difficulty level, far faster than I can introduce other aspects of metacognitive training. Despite our slight differences in learning requirements, over a period of almost two years "correct-ish" usage Luke has shown improvements in the ability to retain information across quite a wide sphere of activities, but in the area of literacy skills he is often able to break multi-syllabic words into component parts, is proressing with compound words, spelling has improved, and he seems able to apply methodologies more consistently. He still has a long way to go, but "Mastering Memory" will assist in this progress."
"A simple, innovative and memorable new approach to training the imaging and retentive capabilities of the human brain."
Tony Buzan, Inventor of Mind Mapping and author of Use your Memory (BBC Books)
A student working at the University of Sussex Assistive Technology Centre used Mastering Memory with "John", who had suffered in two serious car accidents.
"At 19, John had two serious car accidents within three months which resulted in amnesia, shock, and some internal bleeding. He told me that his family and friends had consequently acted as his memory and that, for about 6-7 years, he never really had to think for himself. It was after he failed repeatedly to complete a simple shopping task that his wife forced him into recognising that something was wrong. Just before he started his course in October ... John contracted a serious ear infection which, despite hospital treatment, has persisted, resulting in additional concentration problems. Because of this and other personal problems, John and his sub-dean decided that he should re-start his course in October [the following year].
John and I conducted the evaluation over 10 sessions [between February and April]. The length of the assessment was necessary because of John's hearing and personal difficulties, as well as my own degree finals.
During his initial session, John was very dependent on me prompting him to go ahead. He showed a lack of confidence in his own memory, which was compounded by his hearing problems. As we were both 'guinea pigs', John and I initially went through the buttons and the program together. We started the exercises at level 1, and worked up to level 3, at 3 seconds [per picture]. John found the lower levels easy, but had a tendency to transpose letters and figures. He had basic strategies for memorising, such as recognising that sae/tba/fao meant something to him, but he found it difficult to remember more subtle differences, eg, different shades of the same colour, and the same shape facing in a different direction. He found letter combinations much easier than number or picture combinations.
John found the software very useful. He liked the way that the combinations prompted him to think for himself. Over the ten sessions, we covered different levels, including level 4, letter combinations. John was reasonably confident at this level, despite the degree of difficulty. However, he admitted that he focussed on one picture at a time, rather than grouping or chunking. I used the different images to suggest ways to make recalling combinations easier. I started by advising him to pair numbers, rather than see them individually, also to recognised quickly and then learn to ignore superfluous information, such as repeated images or words. He would then have more time to remember the differences.
I used Speedreader, a screen reading packageafter these sessions, to assess John's memory recall. From an initial speed of 140wpm, with 67% accuracy, he improved to a maximum of 279wpm with 100% accuracy. His last session, in which his hearing was quite impaired, saw a speed of 254 wpm with 81% accuracy."
"Mastering Memory is a valuable instrument for detecting modality strengths as well as for improving memory."
Anne Henderson, author of Maths for the Dyslexic
"One of the most common misconceptions about Mastering Memory is that it needs to be used on a daily basis. This is simply not the case - once a week for around 15 minutes is generally enough. When the student is working with someone else (such as a teacher, classroom assistant, family member or friend) the objective is for the student to grasp and understand one more strategy, or to practice a new strategy that is being introduced, and to think how they can apply it in 'real' life. The objective is not, through daily drill, to produce a student who can perform well on this particular program without incremental benefit in the outside world.
This is why it is so important for someone to sit alongside the student when he or she uses Mastering Memory. When someone else is present and available, the student's approach to the problems thrown up by the program can be discussed and new memory strategies presented, with help from the manual, and incorporated into the student's repertoire as appropriate.
Quite a number of people have reported that using Mastering Memory with a small group of up to five students who discuss the problems together also works well.
However, a student working on his or her own, without someone to discuss their memory strategies with, is, in my view, unlikely to obtain substantial benefit from Mastering Memory. Someone who has already recognised a need to expand their toolkit of memory strategies is, self-evidently, unlikely to spot the most useful strategy without assistance or he or she would be using it already. This is why Mastering Memory is not sold as a network version that could be used by many students at the same time with limited input from a teacher (although it can be made to run over a network if necessary)."
The following feedback was given on working with small groups of children.
I was asked to trial the program by Durham's Special Needs department. All the children we use this program with have memory difficulties, expressive, or receptive or both as well as other speech and language difficulties and they were all of junior age. Memory work forms part of core work done with these children.
I found the manual for the 'Mastering Memory' program useful. It described working memory in a simplified form and gave insight into how to help children work out 'how' they were remembering things, what was hard and how to try to make it easier.
Initially my support assistant and I worked with individual children as set out in the manual. We found it difficult to timetable quiet sessions with limited distractions.
Mrs Boukadida, my support assistant decided to try the program as an extension to group memory work. The children all enjoy the program and say it is interesting, the pictures are clear and the speech instructions area easy to understand. They all say they can remember things easier now. The children all showed an improvement, some managing 5/5 on level 2, and experience a sense of achievement when another picture is added to the list.
We always work as a group of 3-6 children. All the children have to watch each turn and say "right" or "wrong" and if wrong why. This encourages the children to concentrate and listen to everybody, not just when it is their turn.
It is very useful to be able to choose to work with visual, auditory or both together, this has sometimes shown us a pattern in individual children and they can also say which they find easier and why. By working in a group the children have realised that others also have similar difficulties and they now talk together, and share strategies, giving each other help and advice. No-one has become upset when they make a mistake as they see others also making mistakes and they all discuss together how to improve their abilities.
This sharing of experiences and ideas with judicious adult input has been invaluable in our work with these children. They enjoy it, we enjoy it and we can all see their progress.
Speech and Language resource base of a school in Co. Durham
The following comment was received after a small study was carried out to assess whether Mastering Memory can be used to facilitate improvement in short-term visual memory skills.
The results "do suggest that short-term visual memory can be improved with intervention and Mastering Memory appears to be a useful tool for improving short-term memory."
Fairley House School