IDT 873: Improving Recall of Facts

IDT 873 Abstracts: Facts Jennifer Maddrell Woloshyn, V. E., Willoughby, T., Wood, E., & Pressley, M. (1990). Elaborative interrogation facilitates adult learning of factual paragraphs. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82(3), 513-524. Research Purpose and focus. Woloshyn, Willoughby,Wood, and Pressley (1990) evaluate elaborative interrogation as a means of teaching facts. Two separate experiments were conducted. While the second was performed after the results from the first were known, the purpose was the same, namely to evaluate whether encouraging learners to activate and elaborate upon relevant prior knowledge facilitates fact acquisition. Methodology. In the first experiment, 80 college students participated in a single session study at a Canadian university. The students were randomly assigned to one of four experimental conditions, including 1) elaborative interrogation, 2) imagery, 3) self-reference, and 4) reading control groups. Those in the elaborative interrogation condition received accompanying “why” prompt questions on the slide and were asked to respond to the question. Those in the imagery condition were asked to “create an image” of the fact and associate it with the university. Selfreference subjects were asked to consider whether the shown fact would influence a decision to attend the school. Reading-control subjects were prompted to “read the sentence out loud at a rate that allows you to understand the fact.” The initial study consisted of four phases including 1) the instructions, 2) presentation of the study material, 3) tests which included both fact recall for each school and associative matching of the facts to the school, and 4) a post test interview which addressed the students’ attention to the instructions, the difficulty of the task, and prior knowledge about the school. The 20 students in each group viewed 43 slides which contained facts about the Canadian universities not well known to those not attending the schools. However, the instructions to each group differed based on the previously noted experimental condition. The second study included 240 college students from the same school, using the same materials, and incorporating the same four phases. However, the focus was on longer paragraphs beyond the single sentences in the first experiment. In addition, a free-recall memory test was included. Results and conclusions. While there were no significant differences between elaborative interrogation and imagery conditions, both groups performed significantly better than the reading control condition in the test measures. Further, in the first experiment, the self-reference subjects performed significantly better on the associative matching test than the reading control group, but the difference was not deemed significant on the fact recall. In post test interviews, subjects deemed elaborative interrogation and imagery as more “difficult” and requiring “extra efforts” than the reading control group. These findings are important as they suggest that elaborative interrogation yields superior results to the reading alone. Further, elaborative interrogation was as effective as the other elaborative procedures studied. Heuristics The results of these experiments suggest that designers should incorporate elaboration strategies when teaching facts. As seen in this experiment, prompting learners to elaborate beyond the presented fact (as in considering specific questions, creating mental images, or selfreflecting on the presented facts) provides greater support than simply presenting the fact alone. Page | 1 Submitted 20081001 IDT 873 Abstracts: Facts Jennifer Maddrell Critique The greatest strength of this research is the contribution of prescriptions for the teaching of facts. As noted, the results suggest instruction should encourage and foster elaborative strategies to support the learning of facts. In addition, the research sets the stage for further study on whether these strategies can be taught. Can learners be taught to use these strategies in a selfregulated manner? However, while the article presents a review of literature suggesting that elaborative interrogation strategies may involve more conscious and effortful memory processes, the articles falls short in explicitly evaluating the reported experimental results in the context of specific theory within either the discussion or conclusions. In other words, how do the results support or refute a specific theory being tested? Kuo, M., & Hooper, S. (2004). The effects of visual and verbal coding mnemonics on learning Chinese characters in computer-based instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development, 52(3), 23-34. Research Purpose and focus. The purpose of the research conducted by Kuo and Hooper (2004) was to evaluate the effects of visual and verbal mnemonics on memorization, as well as any differences in outcomes between self-generated versus supplied mnemonics. The study focused on the learning and recall of Chinese characters. Kuo and Hooper noted that Chinese characters contain both visual and symbolic meanings, yet many traditional instructional methods tend to ignore the underlying meaning of the character and instead focus on repeated copying of the character to improve recall. In the reported study, Kuo and Hooper questioned whether or not visual and verbal mnemonic strategies could help the learner to generate meaning based on the visual and semantic information of the characters and if those strategies could improve recall. They examined whether verbal or visual mnemonics for learning Chinese characters would benefit both immediate and delayed recall, as well as the relative efficiency and efficacy of self-generated versus experimenter-supplied mnemonics. Methodology. 92 English speaking high school students with no previous Chinese language knowledge volunteered to participate in the study. The students were randomly assigned to one of five treatment groups, including 1) translation in which students were presented with the Chinese character and the English translation and told to memorize the character’s meaning, 2) verbal mnemonics (experimenter-supplied), 3) visual mnemonics (experimenter-supplied), 4) dual coding which included both verbal and visual experimentersupplied mnemonics, or 5) self-generated mnemonics in which students were presented with the Chinese character and the English translation and encouraged to create memory aid such as a picture, written sentence, or an associating story. The instruction to all of the groups was done through a self-paced computer-based tutorial conducted during a regularly scheduled single class period. The tutorial for all groups included the same 30 characters, divided between concrete words (representing physical objects) and abstract words (without referents). Two posttests were also administered via computer and included the same, but shuffled multiple-choice questions. The first test was administered immediately following the tutorial and the second one week later. The study also evaluated the time on task during the tutorial to learn Page | 2 Submitted 20081001 IDT 873 Abstracts: Facts Jennifer Maddrell the 30 characters. The self-generated mnemonics were also collected, sorted by character, and analyzed. In addition, a short survey was conducted from a subsample of students reflecting a representative cross-section of ability to examine the students’ learning strategies. Results and conclusions. While participants scored higher on the immediate versus the delayed posttest, students who self-generated their mnemonics performed significantly better in the recall posttests and spent more time on task than those in the translation, verbal, visual, and dual coding conditions. Further, the survey responses suggested that the learners used the presented or self-generated mnemonics techniques and called upon the mental images to link the character with the English word. The analysis of the self-generated mnemonics indicated that fewer and less descriptive mnemonics were created for abstract words than for concrete words. In addition, the descriptions reflected the students’ Western cultural backgrounds and experiences. These results suggest that the learners linked the to-be-leaned information with prior knowledge. Heuristics The researchers suggest that the findings support the use of generative learning strategies that extend beyond just efficient information presentation. Strategies should encourage learners to self-generate meaningful linkages between the content and prior knowledge. However, while the findings suggest that self-generated relationships are more effective, they may be less efficient than provided relationships. Critique This experiment and article describing the research were refreshingly straightforward with no doubts as to the researchers’ questions, methodology, and suggested findings. The study furthers prior theory and research and offers suggestions for future research. Nice package. Tight bow. Page | 3 Submitted 20081001