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retrieval cues and specificity in the encoding hypothesis

Memory refers to the mind’s ability to encode, store, and retrieve information. It’s vital to experience, associated with the limbic system, and plays a role in information retention over time, enhancing future action’s influence. Knowledge and memory help in understanding the foundations of psychology (Ormrod, J. E., p. 282, 2012). Failure to remember encompasses forgetting to do something that should be done at a time in the future. Some principles exist that enhance learning and memory. This article describes retrieval cues and specificity in the encoding hypothesis (Bernstein, 2012).

To retrieve is to recall past information and is a powerful instrument in retention. Retrieval cues are stimuli stored with the data to be learned. They facilitate the recalling of data that is stored. A retrieval cue can have some categories where new facts are placed or be visual pictures or words associated with further information at the time of storage (Ormrod, J. E., p. 282, 2012). Types include recalling and recollecting, which involves memory reconstructing, the recognition that provides for information identification after experience, and relearning the previously learned information (Ormrod, J. E., p. 282, 2012). They may have previous knowledge used and activated as a ‘hook’ for placing current expertise or be naturally experienced.

Consequently, the specificity of the encoding hypothesis has connections between the recognition and recall process. The principle behind the prediction of encoding specificity offers a basis for understanding how conditions that were present during the encoding of the information relate to memory and recall of the report. Recalling is effective when the situation during encoding time is the same as the condition during retrieval (Bernstein, 2012). The term could refer to the set during encoding of information, physical surroundings, and the individual’s physical or mental state during encoding.

An illustration uses sticky notes and a weekly calendar to remember when to finalize assignments. “Only let us hold true to what we have attained” (Philippians 3:16). This verse means that God has blessed us with abilities to maintain anything we are ready to learn. Some things seem to be hard sometimes, but one has to have the willingness to work hard and not give up and know that with God, everything becomes possible. God wants us to use our brains to make ourselves better. “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26).

One could also use the string around the finger tied at a point challenging to oversee; this acts as a cue that something should be remembered” (Ormrod, 2012, p.282), like tying the ring finger for one to remember turning up in the board’s assignment discussions on Thursday.

In general, memory has extraordinary powers to obtain and retain information. Although we may tend to forget things at times, these things do not disappear; they are merely because they have not been retrieved. Hence, cues and encoding specificity facilitate remembering things easily, among other principles of memorization (Bernstein, 2012). Through recalling something repeatedly, memory improves, and this is called rehearsal.


Bernstein, D. A. (2012). Psychology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

ORMROD, J. E. A. N. N. E. E. L. L. I. S. (2014). Educational psychology: developing learners. UPPER SADDLE RIVER: PEARSON.

King James Version Bible John 14:26

The Holy Bible Philippians 3:16, English Standard Version



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