Current neurological research suggests that mnemonics improve our ability to retrieve information by making encoding richer and by providing a framework in which to store that information, ultimately making it easier to retrieve. Students with mild cognitive disabilities also find mnemonic devices to be particularly helpful.
Although mnemonics cannot make students learn information, these tools do help them to organize information more effectively. A mnemonic device consists of some kind of formula, for example Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally for the order of mathematical operations – parentheses, exponents, multiply, divide, add, and then subtract. Sometimes they can be quite humorous, thereby aiding memorization further by rousing students' interest.
Teachers need not rely solely on existing mnemonics. They can create their own memory devices to fit the needs of students. The process requires three steps: identifying the essential information, forming a suitable mnemonic to fit that information, and then presenting it to the students as a memory aid.