Effects of training in repetition and mediation on paired-associate learning and practical memory in the aged

DeLeon, Jean Louise Murphy
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The purpose of this study was to determine whether training elderly persons in certain learning strategies would result in improved performance on subsequent memory tests, both of a laboratory and practical nature. A review of previous work suggested that a large part of memory decline in the non-senile elderly may be interpreted as problems in learning rather than in retention. Hulicka and Grossman (1967) and Canestrari (1968a) reported that instructing older Ss to use mediation in learning paired associates resulted in improved performance. However, there has been no evidence, and some question, that such training would generalize beyond the immediate paired associate task. Also, there has been little work to assess the relationship between such laboratory studies of memory and real life memory difficulties for the non-senile aged. Forty Ss, aged 60 to 86, were assigned to five groups matched on initial performance on paired-associate learning. All Ss were seen on five consecutive days. The initial session involved testing on paired-associate learning and the administration of three practical memory tests (recall of a personal narrative, a grocery list, and names and occupations for photographed persons). The next three sessions were devoted to training and testing. The five groups were given, respectively, training in the use of a repetition strategy, training in the use of a mediation strategy, practice in learning paired associates, no training or practice but a similar amount of social attention (attention-control), and no treatment. For the repetition and mediation groups, training consisted of appropriate instructions and guided practice with one paired-associate list. These training sessions ended with testing on another paired-associate list. A fifth session included final testing on paired-associate learning and the readministration of the three practical memory tests. During the first and final sessions, Ss were asked what strategies they were using to learn and remember the material. The results indicated that training, both in repetition and in mediation, was effective in improving performance on the immediate paired-associate task. On subsequent testing for generalization effects, however, the mediation group showed an increase in errors, while the repetition group maintained their improved level of performance; questioning after testing suggested that the repetition group actually adopted a mediation strategy on their own. The improved performance of the repetition group was not a strong effect; analysis of the paired-associate test performance of all five groups indicated no significant group differences. There was a significant trials effect across all groups, resembling a W pattern of decline and rise in errors on successive days. Based on Ss' reports of strategy use, two groups of Ss were identified: those who, independent of training they had received, adopted a mediational strategy for paired-associate learning and those who did not. The performance of these two groups differed significantly: the mediation-developers showed a clear and steady improvement and the non-mediators showed daily fluctuations in error scores. There was no generalization from training on paired-associate learning to the practical memory tests. The only significant change on the practical tests was an improvement on recall of the personal narrative, attributed to increased interest in the material. It was concluded that, while increased use of mediation is effective in improving performance on paired-associate learning for elderly persons. explicit training in its use was not successful; instructions which increase the SIS attention to the task and prompt him to develop his own strategy may be more effective. Some suggestions were made for continued efforts to identify the factors related to the extension of laboratory results to application on general memory difficulties of the aged.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1974.
Bibliography: leaves 74-79.
viii, 79 leaves ill
Paired-association learning, Transfer of training, Memory, Older people
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Psychology; no. 622
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