In the past, many researchers have believed that testing is good for memory, but only for the exact thing you are trying to remember: so-called “target memory.” If you’re asked to recall the Lithuanian equivalent of an English word, say, you will get good at remembering the Lithuanian, but you won’t necessarily remember the English. Vaughn wondered whether practice testing might boost other types of memory too.
It does. This is the finding of a study he conducted with Kent State psychologist Katherine A. Rawson,which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. Says Vaughn: “With retrieval practice, everything gets substantially better.”
That “everything” includes target memory; “cue memory,” for the stimulus (the Lithuanian) that evinces the target; and “associative memory,” of the relationship between things—in this case, the word pair.
To pinpoint which of these components was improving the researchers conducted two slightly different experiments, one involving 131 undergraduates and the other, 69. In both preparation sessions, English-Lithuanian word pairs were displayed on a computer screen one by one, each for 10 seconds of study. After studying the list, the participants underwent retrieval trials: A Lithuanian word appeared and they had to type the English equivalent within eight seconds. If the answer was correct, the word went to the end of the list to be asked again. If wrong, the participant got to restudy it. Each item was pre-assigned a “criterion level” from one to five—the number of times it needed to be correctly recalled during practice. Once that level was reached, the word was dropped from practice.
Participants then returned—two days later in Experiment 1, seven in Experiment 2—and completed tests recruiting different types of memory. First, they performed one of four recall tests, plus trials including recognizing words they had or had not studied and picking out correct word pairings among incorrect ones. To eliminate the potentially enhancing effect of a prior recall test—and get a “pure” assessment of recognition of cues, targets, and associations—the second experiment eliminated the preceding recall tests.
The experiments yielded the same results: Items with higher “criterion levels”—which had been correctly retrieved more times during practice—exhibited better performance on tests of all three kinds of memory: cue, target, and associative.
Vaughn stresses that it isn’t just testing, but successful testing—getting the answer right—that makes the difference in memory performance later on. He also admits the study leaves much to be discovered. “We know that repeated retrieval is good for memory. Testing is a modifier of memory. But we still don’t know how that works. We don’t understand the mechanism.”
For more information about this study, please contact: Kalif Vaughn at email@example.com.
The APS journal Psychological Science is the highest ranked empirical journal in psychology. For a copy of the article "Diagnosing criterion level effects on memory: What aspects of memory are enhanced by repeated retrieval?" and access to other Psychological Science research findings, please contact Divya Menon at 202-293-9300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Divya Menon | EurekAlert!
Further reports about: > Psychological Science
The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences