What Is Elaborative Rehearsal?

Elaborative rehearsal is a memory process that allows a person to actively review information to keep it fresh in his memory, and it works by allowing a person to connect new information with what he already knows. Elaborate rehearsal is thought to be a more effective memorization technique than repetition.

Simply, elaborative rehearsal allows a person to remember something because it is related to something similar that is already stored in long-term memory. It works by relating two objects or concepts. For example, a list of seven numbers may be more easily remembered if the numbers were broken down to look like a phone number.

Elaborative rehearsal can relate to more than just memorizing numbers. Writing notes during a lecture in school will help the student retain more information than typing them because writing takes more effort. Most people are more likely to retain what they have read if it is written in a more difficult-to-read font because it requires more effort to read it. These are examples of a broader elaboration principle, which is the principle on which elaborative rehearsal was built.

Elaborative rehearsal can be made more effective when combined with an organization principle. If people can determine how one thing is related to or connects with another thing, it makes retention much easier.