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Effects of retrieval and articulation on memory
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Many would agree that learning occurs when new information is stored in memory. Therefore, most learning efforts typically focus on encoding processes, such as additional study or other forms of repetition. However, as I will outline in this thesis, there are other means by which to improve memory, such as retrieval practice in the form of tests. Testing memory has a reinforcing effect on memory, and it improves retention more than an equal amount of repeated study – referred to as the testing effect – and it has been assumed that retrieval processes drive this effect. Recently, however, this assumption has been called into question because of findings that suggest that articulation, that is, the act of providing an explicit response on a memory test, may play a role in determining the magnitude of the testing effect. Therefore, in three studies, I have examined the effects of retrieval and articulation on later retention, in an attempt to ascertain whether the testing effect is entirely driven by retrieval, or if there are additive effects of articulation. I have also explored possible boundary conditions that may determine when, and if, the effects of retrieval and articulation become selective with respect to memory performance. In all three studies, participants studied paired associates and were tested in a cued recall paradigm after a short (~5 min) and a long (1 week) retention interval, and retrieval was either covert (i.e., responses were retrieved but not articulated) or overt (i.e., responses were retrieved and articulated). 

In Study I, I demonstrated that uninstructed covert retrieval practice (by means of delayed judgments of learning) produced a testing effect (i.e., improved memory relative to a study-only condition) similar to that of explicit testing, which supports the idea that the testing effect is mainly the result of retrieval processes. In study II, I compared memory performance for covert and overt testing, and found partial support for a relative efficacy in favor of overt retrieval, compared to covert retrieval, although the effect size was small. In Study III, I further explored the distinction between different response formats (i.e., covert retrieval vs. various forms of overt testing), specifically handwriting and keyboard typing. I also examined the relative efficacy of covert versus overt retrieval as a function of list order (i.e., whether covert and overt retrieval is practiced in blocks or random order) and its manipulation within or between subjects. The results of Study III were inconclusive insofar as a relative efficacy of covert versus overt retrieval, with respect to later retention, could not be demonstrated reliably. The list order manipulations did not appear to affect covert and overt retrieval selectively. More importantly, in cases where a relative efficacy was found, the effect size was again small.

Taken together, the three studies that of thesis indicate that the benefit of testing memory appears to be almost entirely the result of retrieval processes, and that articulation alone adds very little – if anything – to the magnitude of the testing effect, at least in cued-recall paradigms. These findings are discussed in terms of their theoretical implications, as well as their importance for the development of optimal teaching and learning practices in educational settings.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Psychology, Stockholm University , 2017. , p. 62
Keywords [en]
testing effect, covert retrieval, overt retrieval, judgments of learning, delayed JOL effect, response format, retention interval
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-141851ISBN: 978-91-7649-736-4 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7649-737-1 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-141851DiVA, id: diva2:1089577
Public defence
2017-06-02, David Magnussonsalen (U31), Frescati Hagväg 8, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Accepted.

Available from: 2017-05-10 Created: 2017-04-20 Last updated: 2017-06-01Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Study for now, but judge for later: Delayed judgments of learning promote long term retention
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Study for now, but judge for later: Delayed judgments of learning promote long term retention
2012 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, ISSN 0036-5564, E-ISSN 1467-9450, Vol. 53, no 6, p. 450-454Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Larsson Sundqvist, M., Todorov, I., Kubik, V. & Jonsson, F.U. (2012) Study for now, but judge for later: Delayed judgments of learning promote long-term retention. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 53, 450-454. Delayed judgments of learning (JOL) are assumed to be based on covert retrieval attempts. A common finding is that testing memory during learning improves later retention (i.e., the testing effect), and even more so than an equivalent amount of study, but only after a longer retention interval. To test the assertion that also delayed JOLs improve memory, the participants either studied Swahili-Swedish word pairs four times, or they both studied (two times) and performed delayed JOLs (two times) alternately. Final cued recall test were given after either five minutes or one week. Results showed a reliable learning-group by retention-interval interaction, with less forgetting in the group that alternated between studying and making JOLs. The results are discussed in relation to the self-fulfilling prophecy account of Spellman and Bjork (1992), and in terms of study advice, the results further underscore the importance of delaying JOLs when studying and evaluating ones ongoing learning.

Keywords
Judgments of learning, delayed JOL effect, testing effect, retrieval practice, metamemory
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-84798 (URN)10.1111/j.1467-9450.2012.00968.x (DOI)000311401900002 ()
Note

AuthorCount:4;

Available from: 2013-01-02 Created: 2013-01-02 Last updated: 2017-04-27Bibliographically approved
2. How crucial is the response format for the testing effect?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>How crucial is the response format for the testing effect?
Show others...
2014 (English)In: Psychological Research, ISSN 0340-0727, E-ISSN 1430-2772, Vol. 78, no 5, p. 623-633Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Combining study and test trials during learning is more beneficial for long-term retention than repeated study without testing (i.e., the testing effect). Less is known about the relative efficacy of different response formats during testing. We tested the hypothesis that overt testing (typing responses on a keyboard) during a practice phase benefits later memory more than covert testing (only pressing a button to indicate successful retrieval). In Experiment 1, three groups learned 40 word pairs either by repeatedly studying them, by studying and overtly testing them, or by studying and covertly testing them. In Experiment 2, only the two testing conditions were manipulated in a within-subjects design. In both experiments, participants received cued recall tests after a short (similar to 19 min) and a long (1 week) retention interval. In Experiment 1, all groups performed equally well at the short retention interval. The overt testing group reliably outperformed the repeated study group after 1 week, whereas the covert testing group performed insignificantly different from both these groups. Hence, the testing effect was demonstrated for overt, but failed to show for covert testing. In Experiment 2, overtly tested items were better and more quickly retrieved than those covertly tested. Further, this does not seem to be due to any differences in retrieval effort during learning. To conclude, overt testing was more beneficial for later retention than covert testing, but the effect size was small. Possible explanations are discussed.

National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-107615 (URN)10.1007/s00426-013-0522-8 (DOI)000340585000002 ()
Note

AuthorCount:5;

Available from: 2014-09-26 Created: 2014-09-22 Last updated: 2017-04-27Bibliographically approved
3. Assessing Boundary Conditions of the Testing Effect: On the Relative Efficacy of Covert vs. Overt Retrieval
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Assessing Boundary Conditions of the Testing Effect: On the Relative Efficacy of Covert vs. Overt Retrieval
2017 (English)In: Frontiers in Psychology, ISSN 1664-1078, E-ISSN 1664-1078, Vol. 8, article id 1018Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Repeated testing during learning often improves later memory, which is often referred to as the testing effect. To clarify its boundary conditions, we examined whether the testing effect was selectively affected by covert (retrieved but not articulated) or overt (retrieved and articulated) response format. In Experiments 1 and 2, we compared immediate (5 min) and delayed (1 week) cued recall for paired associates following study-only, covert, and overt conditions, including two types of overt articulation (typing and writing). A clear testing effect was observed in both experiments, but with no selective effects of response format. In Experiments 3 and 4, we compared covert and overt retrieval under blocked and random list orders. The effect sizes were small in both experiments, but there was a significant effect of response format, with overt retrieval showing better final recall performance than covert retrieval. There were no significant effects of blocked versus random list orders with respect to the testing effect produced. Taken together, these findings suggest that, under specific circumstances, overt retrieval may lead to a greater testing effect than that of covert retrieval, but because of small effect sizes, it appears that the testing effect is mainly the result of retrieval processes and that articulation has fairly little to add to its magnitude in a paired-associates learning paradigm.

Keywords
testing effect, paired-associate learning, cued recall, covert retrieval, overt retrieval
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-142203 (URN)10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01018 (DOI)000403756300001 ()
Available from: 2017-04-27 Created: 2017-04-27 Last updated: 2017-11-29Bibliographically approved

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