Chunking can help with learning to better retain contexts in memory and is an effective cognitive technique in which information is broken down into smaller groups or “chunks” to facilitate retention of learning material, for example. This method was first researched and described in the 1950s by psychologist George A. Miller and is based on the idea that working memory is limited and information can be better processed when it is organized into manageable units. Chunking is a concept of grouping information into small chunks to relieve short-term memory and facilitate retention. Miller’s best-known study on the subject dates from 1956 and is entitled “The Magic Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits in Our Information Processing Capacity,” in which he summarizes his findings as follows: The range of absolute judgment and the range of immediate memory impose significant limits on the amount of information we can take in, process, and remember. Through Miller’s study, seven became known as Miller’s or the “magic number” because Miller argued that the capacity for processing information in short-term memory is a maximum of seven plus or minus two units of information. Example: A ten-digit telephone number cannot be remembered in short-term memory if all the digits are remembered. Miller’s study made seven known as Miller’s or “magic number” because Miller argued that the capacity for processing information in short-term memory is a maximum of seven plus or minus two units of information. Example: you can’t remember a ten-digit phone number in short-term memory if you try to remember all the digits individually, but you can if you break it down into three shorter sequences of digits. Chunking works particularly well in learning when you prioritize the most important information, e.g., if you don’t have time to learn everything you want to know before an exam, then you should naturally learn the most important thing first. Then you should find similarities between different content and group them into chunks.
Miller, George A. (1956). The Magical Number 7, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information. Psychological Review, 63, pp. 81-97.
Stangl, W. (2011, 9. Juni). Speicherabhängige Gedächtnisformen. [werner stangl]s arbeitsblätter.