An Experimental Investigation of Contrasting Instructional Conditions on Children’s Developing Memory Skills Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Grammer, Jennie K.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Results from observational work conducted in elementary school classrooms have indicated that teachers do not explicitly teach skills for remembering, but it is also apparent that specific aspects of instruction are important for children's mnemonic development. A rich literature has characterized the development of children's mnemonic strategies and highlighted the importance of social contexts, such as the elementary school classroom, for the emergence of these skills. Although linkages between aspects of teachers' language in the classroom and children's memory performance have been documented, these investigations have largely been correlational in nature. Thus, it is not possible to make causal statements about the impact of classroom instruction on children's mnemonic abilities. Given these limitations, this project was designed to increase understanding of the impact of classroom instruction on memory development through the use of an experimental manipulation of the way in which new information was taught to children. Teachers were trained to lead an instructional unit in memory-rich and low-memory modes of instruction. First- and second-grade children participated in 10 days of lessons on a unit entitled Things that Move that varied in terms of the teachers' use of memory-relevant language. In addition, the children were given pretest, posttest, and 1-month follow-up assessments of memory strategy use and content knowledge. The goals of the project included (1) training instructors in the use of contrasting levels of memory-relevant language, (2) exploring relations among measures of children's mnemonic skill and content knowledge, and (3) examining children's performance on these measures as a function of assignment to the memory-rich or low-memory condition. The data from this project suggest that it is possible to train teachers in the use of memory-relevant instructional techniques. In addition, linkages between children's memory strategy use and recall for familiar and content specific items were identified. Although memory-rich instruction was not found to be related to children's performance on memory strategy tasks involving familiar items, children who participated in the memory-rich instructional unit exhibited more sophisticated strategy use in a content-specific memory task and demonstrated higher levels of content-related strategy knowledge than did their peers exposed to low-memory instruction.
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  • In Copyright
  • "... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Psychology (Developmental Psychology)."
  • Ornstein, Peter
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  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

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