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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Explicit and implicit memory assessment for elaborative instruction: a processing account for instruction and assessment in the elementary classroom Harrison, Gina Louise


Explicit memory tests require the deliberate recollection of recently presented material and are defined by having students think back to a previous instructional episode. Implicit memory tests do not require students to deliberately retrieve recently presented material, rather students are asked to name whatever comes to mind when given a cue of some kind. The amount of information retrieved in this manner (which reflects previously presented content) represents the amount of priming or transfer from the previous instructional episode. Elaborative instructional processing (making meaningful associations between to-be-learned material) has been reported to create differential performance effects, known as dissociations, between explicit and implicit tests. Lab research suggests that performance on both tests may be increased with elaborative processing, but that implicit tests are significantly less affected. Likewise, instructional strategies that incorporate elaborative questioning techniques into classroom instruction, have been found to increase student performance on explicit-type tests. Processing dissociations between explicit and implicit tests have been explained by adapting the framework of Transfer Appropriate Processing (T.A.P.), emphasizing the overlap in instruction and retrieval processes engaged by students as best predicting memory performance. Processing theorists have postulated that dissociations between explicit and implicit tests due to elaborative processing may be explained by the task requirements of particular explicit and implicit tests. Explicit tests generally require elaborative processing and benefit from elaboration during instruction. Implicit tests generally require integrative processing (e.g. perceiving relations between implicit test cues and instructional targets) and benefit less from elaborative instruction. The present study was designed to examine how an elaborative questioning strategy would affect students' memory for instructional information, measured with an explicit and implicit test. Importantly, would there be an increase to performance on both tests due to elaborative instruction and would there be a dissociation found evidenced by greater benefits to explicit over implicit test performance? Forty-four students from grades 3 and 4 were randomly paired with a classmate during instruction, and were presented 12 facts about outer space in one of two instructional conditions: (non-elaborative) read aloud or (elaborative) interrogative elaboration. Students in the read aloud condition were instructed to read out loud, slowly and carefully with the experimenter, each of the 12 space facts. Students in the interrogative elaboration condition were instructed to read out loud with the experimenter each of the space facts, and were asked three questions after each fact requiring a "yes" or "no" response. After all the space facts and questions had been completed, students made a poster about the facts. The following day, students were tested individually with an explicit and implicit memory test. The explicit test required students to think back to yesterday, and recall as many of the facts about space that they could remember. For the implicit test, students were read a brief story (about 50 words) ending with a question requiring students to name five members of a particular space category. Performance on both tests was significantly greater in the interrogative elaboration condition than in the read aloud condition; however, no evidence of a processing dissociation was found— that is explicit and implicit test performance did not vary. It was concluded, congruent with the T.A.P. processing framework, that in the classroom setting the overlap in processing between instruction and testing was a greater determinant of memory performance on both tests than was the deliberate (explicit) or non-deliberate (implicit) access to retrieve the instructional material.

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