Memory Matrix

Facilitating Memory Matrix active learning activities in physically-distanced learning spaces

Time and Effort

Instructor Prep TimeMedium
Student Activity TimeLow
Instructor Response TimeMedium
Complexity of ActivityMedium


Memory Matrix is a two-dimensional diagram used to organize and illustrate relationships. In the activity, the row and column headings are given, but the cells are left empty. As students fill in the blank cells, it provides them feedback on their understanding of content while helping instructors assess students’ recall and/or comprehension.


Use it when you want...

  • To help students recall essential content,
  • To have students develop the skill of organizing information into categories,
  • To see not only whether students have memorized the necessary information, but also how well they can recall new content, and how effectively they organized it.

What students will need


The following workflow is meant as guidance for how you can facilitate a Memory Matrix learning activity within a classroom with a physical distancing layout.


  • Identify a lecture, reading, discussion, or another assignment that will be the foundation of the activity.
  • Review the content and draw a simple table in which rows and columns are useful variables for important information covered in the lesson.
  • Fill in the blank cells yourself with the appropriate facts. Use the same vocabulary used in the content students reviewed.
  • Identify whether students will complete the table individually or in groups. If in groups, identify group size.
  • Create a template of the document using Google Docs.


  • Ask students either to work individually or in pairs to complete the assignment
  • Give students a blank handout at the start of class for the beginning, or middle, or end of the class session.
  • Share the method students will use to work collaboratively on the activity.
    • Option 1: Students speak with one another across the empty seats.
    • Option 2: Groups follow a link that creates a new version of the template in Google Docs. The document is shared among the group members and with the instructor.
  • Direct students to provide the information needed to fill in the cells. Tell them how they should complete the table (individually or in groups) and how much time they have to complete it. Ask them to write only words or brief phrases. Set a realistic limit for the number of items you expect them to insert into each cell.
  • Have students send you the URL for their Google Doc via email.


  • Review matrices and assess the correctness and completeness of the information given.
  • Provide feedback/grade based on the quality of the matrices.
  • Discuss the results of the activity at the next class meeting.

Accessibility and Room Considerations

  • Classroom furniture is not to be rearranged to facilitate activities. If you need a different general assignment classroom to meet your instructional needs, contact your curricular representative.
  • If students are to move around the room during an activity, consider the mobility, location, equipment, and furniture needs of all students.
  • The physical distance between students (particularly in large lecture halls) may make it difficult for students to hear one another when they are asked to speak.
  • This same physical distance may increase the noise level in the room as students try to speak to one another. This noise level may cause issues for some students. To this end, it is recommended that group size be limited to pairs (ideally) or triads at most. Activities requiring larger group sizes should utilize text-based chat solutions like those found in Zoom.
  • The technologies recommended here should meet most campus accessibility requirements. However, you should check with the McBurney Disability Resources Center for guidance on any specific accommodations for your students.

Technical Documentation


Angelo, Thomas A., and K. Patricia Cross. Classroom Assessment Techniques: a Handbook for College Teachers. Jossey-Bass, 1993. pp. 142-147.

See Also: