Reading aloud as a distinctive context: Examination of the production effect as a context-based memory effect
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Research on the production effect has established that studying information aloud is a simple memory technique useful for learning new information in various settings; this memory benefit has been credited to the distinctive processing of information studied aloud relative to other information studied silently. In this dissertation, I aim to characterize the production effect more broadly as a context-based memory effect, thus expanding how production is conceptualized as a memory technique. Essentially, at encoding, the distinctive “aloud” information creates a global contextual cue which becomes associated with (only) the produced information, and this cue can then be elicited at retrieval to facilitate memory for the produced information. This provides a more concrete mechanism than is provided by the current conceptualization that information studied aloud (or produced in another way) benefits only by being distinct from other information studied silently: Distinctiveness is underpinned by context. Three studies are reported, the first two using recognition testing. In Study 1 (Chapter 2), a pure-list production effect manipulation—where participant study only aloud items or only silent items—was inserted into a mixed-list design containing both aloud and silent items; the goal was to examine whether the co-occurring mixed-list procedure would enhance the magnitude of the pure-list production effect by prompting participants to use the distinctive information—production—to support also the encoding and retrieval of the pure-list aloud items. A larger-than-typical pure-list production effect was indeed found: Presumably, production was encoded as a contextual cue associated with the pure-list aloud items, which subsequently aided the retrieval of these items because the non-studied items on the recognition test were associated with a different context. Thus, aloud items studied in pure lists can be sufficiently differentiated without requiring a cost-benefit trade-off as in mixed-list designs, where some silent information must suffer a memory cost at the same time that aloud learning is enhanced. In addition, the secondary findings suggested that contextual overloading may in fact underlie the previously reported influence of statistical distinctiveness within the production effect, bolstering the argument for the production effect to be considered as a context-based memory effect. In Study 2 (Chapter 3), a mixed-list production effect manipulation was inserted into a list-method directed forgetting procedure to investigate whether attempting to use production as a memory cue would aid the later retrieval of forgotten aloud information. According to the contextual change hypothesis of list-method directed forgetting, induced forgetting reduces memory of a list of items due to a mental context change, and reinstating the relevant contextual cues associated with the forgotten list will in turn improve memory of that list; the aim of the manipulation was to test whether production belongs to this conceptualization of contextual cues. The results reinforced that reading aloud does indeed function as contextual information in the production effect, in that reactivating the use of this information at retrieval enhanced memory of only aloud items—and not silent items—intentionally forgotten. Study 3 (Chapter 4) explored whether production, as contextual information, also supports the memory of information studied aloud when the method of retrieval is recall. A modified mixed-list procedure was used where pairs of aloud and silent lists were studied in a series of trials, and performance was compared to that on single-list trials—consisting of only one aloud or one silent list—to gauge whether a produced list, due to its distinctive context, would be more protected from interference effects of studying another list concurrently compared to an unproduced list. The primary finding was decreased proactive interference from earlier information when newer information is studied aloud: This illustrates a potential release from proactive interference by means of a context change when the more recent information is studied aloud, regardless of how the earlier information was studied. Taken together, these studies show that the production effect is a useful learning technique that enhances memory through distinctive context-based effects.
Cite this version of the work
Yichu Zhou (2022). Reading aloud as a distinctive context: Examination of the production effect as a context-based memory effect. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/18060