What is a Memory Aid or “Cue Sheet?”
A memory aid, or cue sheet, is a testing accommodation used to support students who have documented challenges with memory. It is a tool used to trigger information that a student has studied but may have difficulty recalling due to cognitive processing deficits associated with memory and recall. The cue sheet allows the student to demonstrate knowledge of course material by helping prompt the student’s memory, not by providing the answer. A cue sheet gives students an equal opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of course material on a test/exam without taxing already compromised memory function. This accommodation is not intended to reduce academic requirements or alter the standards by which academic performance is assessed.
A proper cue sheet will not be useful to the student unless the student knows and understands how to use the information it refers to. If the student doesn’t understand the course material, a proper cue sheet will not help. A cue sheet provides support to students with documented deficits in rote memory, sequencing memory, working memory, and /or long-term memory. It helps them recall information that would otherwise be inaccessible to them in a testing situation. A student who requires a cue sheet will provide Student Accessibility Services with documentation supporting the need for this particular aid.
Disabilities that may affect memory include (but are not limited to):
- Acquired Brain Injury
- Psychiatric disability
- Specific learning disability
- Medical Conditions
What does a memory aid / cue sheet look like?
Styles of cue sheets may vary. Generally they can be hand written or typed on a large index card and up to one side of a letter-size page (8 ½ x 11”). Typically the cue sheet should be written or typed in a standard font size (i.e. 12 point font) and double spaced. At the discretion of the instructor, a cue sheet may or may not include the use of:
- short phrases
- schematic diagrams
- sample questions
- key terms/words
A cue sheet accommodation is not intended to reduce academic requirements or alter the standards by which academic performance is assessed.
What a Cue Sheet Is Not
A cue sheet is not meant to record all the facts, concepts or processes being tested. This means that a cue sheet should NOT:
- Exceed one page (single sided)
- Include specific examples of how formulas are use
- Include “answer sheets” or complete terms and definitions
- Include full course notes or all information from the course which is being evaluated
- Include open textbooks
- Serve as a substitute of studying—because a cue sheet will not help if a student has not studied the material
The contents of a cue sheet are at the instructor’s discretion and should not run contrary to the essential requirements of the course. Only the professor can determine whether a cue sheet compromises the integrity of the course.
A cue sheet should not contain a synopsis of course material, but rather mnemonics (a device such as a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations that assists in recalling information) and formulas that would enable the student to solve the problem. If the purpose of a test is to determine whether or not the student knows specific definitions, having those words or definitions on a cue sheet would make it an answer sheet and therefore, not acceptable. If the definitions were written but not connected to the terms to be defined in any way, this may be allowable, since it will trigger the student’s memory of the correct term. The ideal cue sheet would most likely make little sense to anyone but that specific student. If remembering the information on the cue sheet is deemed to be an essential learning objective or outcome of the course, it should not be allowed. For example, if the learning objective or outcome of the course is to know the formula, it should not be allowed on the cue sheet; however, if the learning objective or outcome of the course is to demonstrate the ability to apply the formula, then it could be allowed on the cue sheet.
Cue sheets must be reviewed and approved by the instructor since the instructor decides the learning objectives or essential requirements of the course. Instructors can choose to remove memory triggers that are deemed to be essential learning objectives for the course.
Note: It is understood that some courses do not lend themselves to the use of cue sheets.