Brief Report: A Simple Stimulus for Student Writing and Learning in the Introductory Psychology Course

By Carroll, David W. | North American Journal of Psychology, March 2008 | Go to article overview

Brief Report: A Simple Stimulus for Student Writing and Learning in the Introductory Psychology Course


Carroll, David W., North American Journal of Psychology


This paper explores the efficacy of using familiar quotations and summary writing in introductory psychology lectures. I began lectures in my introductory psychology class with quotations from Bartleby.com, an online version of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. On some class periods, students also summarized the lecture and the quotation at the end of the class. Student performance on exam questions related to the quotations improved when they wrote summaries. Quotations may enhance lectures and improve student performance when students actively relate them to course content.

**********

A single word even may be a spark of inextinguishable thought.--Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1821/1965, p. 37

Many introductory textbooks use quotations to introduce psychological concepts (e.g., Myers, 2007; Wade & Tavris, 2008). Quotations from writers such as Paul Valery ("The purpose of psychology is to give us a completely different idea of things we know best"), William James ("A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices"), and Emily Dickinson ("Assent, and you are sane; demur--you're straightaway dangerous") may facilitate student learning by arousing interest and preparing students for subsequent discussions.

Although the use of quotations to introduce psychological concepts is relatively common in textbooks, their role in classroom instruction is unknown. In the present study, I explored the efficacy of using quotations to enhance introductory psychology lectures.

In recent years, I have begun my introductory psychology lectures by presenting students with a quotation that illustrated that day's topic. I selected the quotations from Bartleby.com, the online version of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations (2002). I drew most of the quotations from writers such as Shakespeare and Dickinson, rather than psychologists. Students appeared to enjoy the activity, but I found no obvious discernible effect on exam performance.

In the Spring 2006 semester, I combined quotations at the beginning of the class period with student summaries of the lecture at the end of the class period, the latter an activity found to improve examination scores (Radmacher & Latosi-Sawin, 1995). The purpose of combining quotations and summaries was to encourage students to identify the main point of the day's lecture and to connect it with the day's quotation.

There is reason to believe that the activity of combining quotations with lecture summaries might promote retention of concepts and hence better scores on exams. I suspected that many of my students would be unfamiliar with them. Thus, there may be a novelty effect at work, and students might be intrigued or curious about the meaning of the quotation in the context of the day's lecture. Such curiosity might lead to increased depth of processing, which promotes retention (Craik & Lockhart, 1972).

In the present study, I compared student performance on three groups of exam questions: those that corresponded to quotations that I combined with lecture summaries (combined condition), those that corresponded to quotations without summaries (quotation-only condition), and those that did not correspond to either quotations or summaries (control condition). My expectation was that only the combined condition would lead to improved exam performance relative to the baseline established in previous semesters.

METHOD

Participants and Materials

Participants were 27 students in my introductory psychology class in the Spring 2006 semester at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

I selected literary, historical, and scientific quotations from www.bartleby.com/100/(n.d). Bartleby.com includes a number of different databases, including Bartlett's quotations (literary sources), Columbia quotations (literary and scientific quotations), and Simpson's quotations (more contemporary quotations). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Brief Report: A Simple Stimulus for Student Writing and Learning in the Introductory Psychology Course
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.