Memory refers to a complex set of cognitive and neurological processes involved in the acquisition, storage, and recall of information. Specific memory impairments are characteristic of a variety of disabilities.

By the time students are accepted into university, most have developed a personal repertoire of memory strategies effective at the high school level. However, university presents substantial new memory challenges. In general, there is far more information, at a higher level of complexity and detail, to be learned. There tends to be a greater emphasis on test/exam performance, versus take-home assignments. And finally, there is typically a substantially greater proportion of grades dependant on far fewer tests/exams, compared to high school.

At the Paul Menton Centre, our goal is to increase the likelihood that the performance of students with specific memory impairments on tests/exams reflects what they have actually learned, rather than the impact of their disability, without compromising the integrity of the evaluation. We do so in a variety of ways:

  • When appropriate, they may work with a counselor to develop exam-anxiety reduction strategies and coping techniques.
  • Basic accommodations, such as extra time and a quiet location, may help compensate for the extensive processing required to retrieve information during tests and exams
  • A reduced course load may be advised
  • Students may be referred to a PMC Learning Strategist for training in individualized study and exam-writing strategies
  • Learn to develop an individualized “metacognitive strategy cueing sheet” to take into tests and exams
  • Depending on the nature and severity a student’s memory impairment, an alternative format may be requested as certain formats (e.g. multiple choice) put some students at a distinct disadvantage
  • Finally, in very rare cases, a pre-approved informational Memory Cueing Sheet may be recommended.

Cueing sheets are NOT cheat sheets, with facts and formulae copied down for the student to use during tests or exams. Rather, they provide mnemonic cues that the student has developed from the course material to assist in the recall of previously-learned information.

The Paul Menton Centre has developed information sheets and processes to assist instructors in understanding and implementing the use of cueing sheets for specific memory impairments (see links below). Of course, a student’s PMC Coordinator is available for discussion about these strategies and accommodations.

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