ERIC Number: EJ1056736
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Mar
Abstractor: As Provided
Grain Size of Recall Practice for Lengthy Text Material: Fragile and Mysterious Effects on Memory
Wissman, Kathryn T.; Rawson, Katherine A.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v41 n2 p439-455 Mar 2015
The current research evaluated the extent to which the grain size of recall practice for lengthy text material affects recall during practice and subsequent memory. The "grain size hypothesis" states that a smaller vs. larger grain size will increase retrieval success during practice that in turn will enhance subsequent memory for lengthy text material. Participants were prompted to recall directly after studying each section (section recall) or after all sections had been studied (whole-text recall) during practice, and then all participants completed a final test after a delay. Results across 7 experiments (including 587 participants and 1,394 recall protocols) partially disconfirmed the predictions of the grain size hypothesis: Although the smaller grain size produced sizable recall advantages during practice as expected ("ds" from 1.02 to 1.87 across experiments), the advantage was substantially or completely attenuated across a delay. Experiments 2-7 falsified several plausible methodological and theoretical explanations for the fragility of the effect, indicating that it was not due to particular text materials, retrieval from working memory during practice, the length of the retention interval, the spacing between study and practice recall, a disproportionate increase in recall of unimportant details, or a deficit in integration of ideas across text sections. In sum, results conclusively establish an initially sizable but mysteriously fragile effect of grain size, for which an explanation remains elusive.
Descriptors: Recall (Psychology), Experimental Psychology, Memory, Drills (Practice), Memorization, Hypothesis Testing, Cognitive Processes, Undergraduate Students, Prompting, Sentences, Scoring, Printed Materials, Cues, Mathematics, Word Lists, Regression (Statistics)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
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