What is a chunk?
Have you ever tried to recall a long list of items? How many did you remember? The answer probably is around seven plus-or-minus two. That’s our memory span, which is a measure of short-term memory.
In cognitive psychology, there is a technique called “chunking”, which lets you push the limits of your memory. How? By connecting individual pieces of information, which then become a meaningful whole (i.e. a chunk) that can be more easily processed and stored in memory. For example, here is a list of numbers: 1,4,9,2,1,7,8,9,1,9,1,4. If you’re familiar with dates in history, you’ll more easily remember the following 3 chunks: 1492 (Columbus), 1789 (French Revolution), 1914 (WWI).
Instructional designers use this chunking technique to help learners recall information, but you can do it yourself to increase your memory span!