"When the story contains a surprise, the preceding events will be remembered better than when it contains no surprise." - Hoeken and van VlietHoeken and van Vliet explain that this probably happens because the surprise forces the reader to reassess their representation of the story. In doing so, the reader is playing the events over again in their mind and going through the process which helps in remembering them better.
Daniel Willingham stressed the effectiveness of creating lessons that tell a story in Why Students Don't Like School because people tend to remember stories. It's certainly not easy to do this for every lesson but I've tried to think about it each time I've put something together.
In doing so, one thing that I tend to do is create lessons which have a surprise in the beginning to create a "hook" which I hope leads to curiosity and even engagement. But does that help students to remember the lesson or just the hook?
Michelle Miller in Minds Online said "the Aha! experience is much more satisfying when it is preceded by the Huh? experience." Maybe an effective method is to lead students along a path and create a "surprise" along the way that forces them to reassess what was just learned and/or discussed.
If the "124" in the title lead someone to read this post, there may be something to this theory.
Suspense, curiosity, and surprise: How discourse structure influences the affective and cognitive processing of a story. Hans Hoeken and Mario van Vliet