Understanding the effects of different study methods on retention of information and transfer of learning
Egan, Rylan Graham
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This study investigates the effect of elaborate retrieval, which is a byproduct of spaced practice, on adult cognition. It was hypothesized that elaborate re-conceptualization of new information, within a context that was disparate from the one used during learning, could facilitate learning transfer through the development of a broader conceptual frame of reference. The re-conceptualization task was not expected to degrade rote definitional memory. The two re-conceptualization tasks used in this study were termed model-building and free study. The model building task required the development of a personalized conceptual model using information provided within three spaced narrated information passages. The free study task required the unaided study of all three passages. Transfer of learning and rote memory were evaluated using a general knowledge test and a knowledge extension test. These tests were given at the end of the experiment. The general knowledge test required participants to match concept labels and definitions which were provided during the experiment. The knowledge extension test required participants to transfer knowledge amassed during the experiment to a complex “real world” situation. The results demonstrated that learners, who completed the spaced re-conceptualization task, improved their ability to transfer new information as the spacing intervals lengthened. Participants who were required to study the same information without any instruction did not show learning transfer improvement. Both groups illustrated parallel improvements in rote memorization due to spacing.