The impact of retrieval practice with factual information on the assimilation of similar novel factual information. Open Access

Cawley-Bennett, Andrew (Summer 2020)

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Semantic memory refers to one’s factual information about the world. Acquisition of new semantic memory is thought to build on the framework of existing semantic memory. A well-studied manipulation to promote better learning of semantic information is through an intervening test using retrieval practice, a form of elaborative encoding. Yet, what is not well-known are the implications that retrieval practice may have on the assimilation of new yet related semantic information. This study, through four experiments, examined if retrieval practice benefited the learning of trivia-style fact sentences and if retrieval practice benefited a future instance of learning additional facts stemming from the same fact category. The results from all four experiments demonstrated that retrieval practice does enhance memory for trivia-style fact sentences, more so than re-studying the material a second time, even on a final test measured one month after the intervening retrieval practice task. However, the results from Experiments 2 through 4 did not demonstrate an overall benefit to learning additional fact sentences stemming from the same fact category administered one week from the intervening retrieval practice task. Still, there were multiple significant positive correlations between new fact learning and memory performance on the retrieval practice fact learning. More specifically, this new learning effect was evident when participants were engaged with the task. Stronger retrieval practice effects demonstrated stronger new learning effects, and this retrieval practice effect was a better predictor of memory performance for new learning effects than were self-rated prior expertise levels for the fact categories used in the study. These results substantiate the idea that new related learning can be impacted by retrieval practice when encoding an original set of factual information, an implication that can have a dramatic effect in educational practices.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

General Methods 3

Experiment 1a 7

Method 7

Results 9

Experiment 1b 11

Method 11

Results 12

Summary of Experiment 1 14

Experiment 2 15

Method 15

Results 16

Summary of Experiment 2 20

Experiment 3 21

Method 21

Results 23

Summary of Experiment 3 27

Experiment 4 28

Method 28

Results 29

General Discussion 32

References 38

Figures for Experiment 1a 42

Figures for Experiment 1b 45

Figures for Experiment 2 48

Figures for Experiment 3 55

Figures for Experiment 4 60

Appendix A 64

Appendix B 117

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