Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Dr. I.M. Begg
Educators occasionally present students with prequestions before the students read textual material. Prequestions increase retention of the prequestioned portion of the text. The consensus in the educational psychology literature is that the increased retention is caused by selective displacement of attention from unprequestioned to prequestioned material.
The experiments in this dissertation employ techniques and theories from generation effect research to show that the memorial benefits of prequestioning derive from more complex process changes than mere shifting of attention. Experiment 1 establishes that the materials used in the dissertation (general knowledge statements) support a prequestion effect in a traditional within-subject design. Experiments 2 and 3 employ a between-subjects manipulation of prequestioning. The presence of a prequestion effect within these experiments demonstrates that selective displacement of attention is insufficient to explain the full prequestion effect.
In Experiments 4-6, alternative explanations for the effect of prequestions are explored. Question recognition and answer recognition are tested in Experiment 4, in order to assess the impact of prequestions on item-specific information. Item-specific effects of prequestioning were strong for the questions, but not the answers. In Experiment 5, the effect of time lag on prequestion effectiveness was examined. No appreciable lag effect was found. Experiment 6 examined the importance of the relationship between a prequestion and a provided answer. The absence of a prequestion effect for meaningless question-answer pairs in this experiment rules out explanations based solely on cue-specific information. Experiment 7 examines the effectiveness of prequestioning in comparison with dual presentation of the to-be-learned material. For the factual prequestions employed, dual presentation provided a much greater benefit in cued recall.
Finally, a proposal is presented to explain the effects of prequestions. The proposal is a supplement to explanations based on selective displacement of attention.
Taylor, James C., "Attentional and Non-attentional Effects of Prequestioning" (1996). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2430.