Young children's memory : the effect of task goal and item organization on immediate and delayed recall

Herman, Hannah Schattner
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The effectiveness of strategies in enhancing memory performance has been well documented but the issue of whether young children can demonstrate early forms of strategic behavior remains unresolved. This study assessed the impact of an explicit goal to remember on the behavior and recall performance of preschoolers, and explored the effect on recall when items to-be-remembered are organized thematically. It has been suggested that children organize information schematically, based on their daily routine experiences. Thus, material compatible with schematic knowledge structures should facilitate recall of young children. Forty-three preschoolers were instructed either to remember or to play with a set of 12 toy objects. The items for half the children in each condition were linked to a beach picnic theme and the alternate array was comprised of familiar but unrelated objects. Children in the remember condition were told to remember the items for later "purchase" at a pretend store. Following the two-minute exposure period, children in the play group were told to get the items from the store. The characteristic pattern of children told to play was to physically engage the items in contrast to the remember group who spent considerable time not obviously interacting with the objects but apparently still involved in the task, and some time looking at the items and naming them. Differences in the behaviors of the two groups and the nature of the behaviors of the remember children, suggest that precursors of mnemonic strategies are available to preschoolers. However, only naming of items was predictive of recall. Thus, although the remember group had higher recall scores, the differences were only marginally significant. Item organization did not affect immediate recall scores, but only children exposed to the beach array maintained their level of recall following the one-week delay interval. With recency of exposure no longer aiding recall, children in the non-thematic group had to rely on memory of individual items. Children who had been exposed to the thematic set could use the beach theme to trigger recall of the array. The data are compatible with the notion that schemas influence retrieval rather than encoding.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Hawaii at Manoa. 1988.
Bibliography: leaves 122-126.
viii, 126 leaves, bound 29 cm
Memory in children
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