Encoding Information

Encoding, the transformation as well as the transfer of information into a memory system, requires, in general, selective attention, the focusing of awareness on a particular set of stimuli or events. Information may also be encoded at different levels of processing. Consider, for example, the possible processing levels concerning a word projected briefly on a screen. Shallow (structural) processing focuses on the physical characteristics of the written word; intermediate (phonemic) processing focuses on phonemic encoding (the sound of the word); and deep (semantic) processing focuses on semantic encoding (the meaning of the word).

Encoding, may be enhanced by means of

  • visual imagery: formation of visual images of things to be remembered

  • elaboration: developing an association/link to the topic to be remembered

  • relevance: making the material to be remembered personally relevant

and through the following organizational procedures:

  • chunking: organizing the material to be remembered into groups, as, for example, telephone numbers are arranged—(area code) (three digits) (four digits).

  • hierarchies: grouping information to be remembered into categories and possibly into hierarchies consisting of major and minor concepts.