Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Professor Ian Begg
A series of nine studies investigated the 'form class effect', the superior recall shown by children when to-be-associated nouns are studied linked by verbs or prepositions rather than by conjunctions, or without any 'connective'. One main finding was that the form class effect is limited to measures of associative recall, and not found in the overall levels of free recall. It was suggested that linking verbs or prepositions result in more joint representation of items in memory, and such differences in organization should emerge only in associative recall measures. A second finding was that instructions to form interactive images eliminated the superiority of verb-linked nouns in children's recall, by raising recall with conjunctions to the level of verbs. Conversely, instructions to form a separate image for each item also eliminated the form class effect, but by reducing recall with verbs to the level of conjunction linked nouns. The effects of imagery instructions were interpreted as supporting the view that different types of connective, like different types of imagery instructions, produce different associative recall levels because they influence the processing of information, relating the items together in memory. Younger, grade 3, children did not perform as predicted with imagery instructions, such that a form class effect was still observed. The finding is consistent with numerous other studies which show that imagery instructions are often ineffective with younger children, and extends the observation to separate imagery. A number of explanations of the ineffectiveness of imagery instructions for younger children are evaluated. Finally, linking prepositions were shown to produce different levels of associative recall as a function of the degree of close spatial relationship implied between item referents. An explanation in terms of a greater tendency on the part of children to encode items separately unless certain types of relationship are actually present between items or implied between item referents was suggested.
Young, Brian Jeffrey, "The Form Class Effect" (1984). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1313.