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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Children's use of rehearsal to remember pictures and words : do self-report, observation, and stimulus effects tell the same story? Colozzo, Paola Elizabeth


This study looked at the use of verbal rehearsal in children from grades I to IV in two immediate serial memory tasks, one involving spoken words and the other nameable pictures. It took a new approach for studying rehearsal by integrating and building on the theoretical frameworks and accumulated data from two largely independent research traditions, memory development research and developmental applications of short-term memory models. The objective was to make both a theoretical and a methodological contribution by juxtaposing different conceptualisations of verbal rehearsal as well as by determining how best to ascertain on a child-by-child basis whether the participants were using this strategy. Both memory tasks involved the recall of order. The serial memory for pictures task did not require any talking. It was left up to the children whether or not to resort to verbal strategies in the form of labelling or rehearsal. Three different indicators were used to tap into rehearsal. One indicator, the phonological-similarity effect, was linked to the manipulation of the characteristics of the to-be-remembered items. The two other indicators were observational and self-report data. In addition, by manipulating visual similarity, it was possible to ask whether children were relying on the pictures while they completed the serial memory for pictures task. The combination of observational and self-report data resulted in a reliable indicator of whether or not a child was rehearsing. However, when this data was compared to whether this same child presented with a phonological-similarity effect, it became clear that these indices were not measuring exactly the same thing. The data can nonetheless be reconciled by invoking a broader conception of verbal mediation, one that encompasses the allocation of attention for the purpose of maintenance as well as forms of complex rehearsal. Finally, this study looked at whether any child-related variables, and in particular language abilities, were linked to the use of rehearsal. Children with better production skills were more likely to have relied on verbal rehearsal to remember lists of spoken words.

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