The Influence of Reducing Inter-Item Context Cue Formation on Memory Scores

By Bertsch, Sharon; Struck, Raychal | North American Journal of Psychology, June 2011 | Go to article overview

The Influence of Reducing Inter-Item Context Cue Formation on Memory Scores


Bertsch, Sharon, Struck, Raychal, North American Journal of Psychology


Encoding Specificity predicts an increase in memory performance accuracy when features present during the encoding of information are also present during testing (Tulving & Thomson, 1973). These features include contextual cues found in the environment (i.e., context dependent memory; Smith, 1979). To the extent that environmental elements present during encoding overlap those present at test, memory performance is predicted to improve; for example, Mead and Ball (2007) used background music in major or minor keys to produce context dependent memory effects for lists of words. In addition to features in the surrounding environment, context effects have been found for cues that participants encounter while processing the targets themselves, such as words presented on landscape photographs (Hockley, 2008, Experiment 2) or on colored backgrounds (Isarida & Isarida, 2007).

It is conceivable that for sets of items, inter-item relationships may also qualify as contextual cues, as studying the same target content repeatedly in the same order may cause particular items to be encoded as part of the context for adjacent items. As is found with other types of contextual cues, this inter-item context would be expected to assist retrieval if the studied order of the target items remained the same on the test. Under these conditions, test scores would reflect retrieval of item information boosted by context-cue assistance. Tests on which the target content is ordered differently from that in which the items were studied would fail to provide these inter-item cues and scores would be expected to decline.

Studying a set of items under conditions where the order constantly changes would be expected to prevent the formation of inter-item contextual cues, as the same items are unlikely to precede or follow each other more than once. Scores on the test would now be more likely to represent retrieval of the target information itself, unaffected by matching or mismatching inter-item context. (1)

Several researchers have used college students to compare the effects of matching or mis-matching the order in which information is presented during lecture (or in a textbook) and the order of the corresponding items on the test of that material. In general, test item sequence is either consistent with that in which the information was initially presented, or test items are presented in a randomized order. Despite predictions based on both encoding specificity and the memory benefits of contextual overlap, with few exceptions (Balch, 1989), experiments conducted over the last 30 years have failed to find significantly better scores on matching-presentation ordered tests (Goss Lucas & Bernstein, 2005; Neely, Springston, & McCann, 1994; Perlini, Lind, & Zumbo, 1998; Schmitt & Scheirer, 1977; Spiers & Pihl, 1976; Tal, Akers, & Hodge, 2008).

Two potential explanations for this discrepancy between predictions made by well-established theory and experimental results can be made, depending on the logic behind comparing the lecture order of information to the test order. The first is that the lecture presentation order was intended to be a proxy for the order in which students study that information. In this case, measurement error will be introduced to the extent that students deviate from that presented order. This kind of error often results in "mixed" findings across experiments (as it has on this topic). A second possibility is that existence of inter-item context effects between lecture content and test items themselves was being investigated. Context effects are unlikely to be seen in this situation as both encoding specificity and context dependent memory theories describe the process of episodic memory formation during active learning. Mere exposure to information (e.g., listening to a lecture) may not produce the target-context relationship necessary for an overlapping benefit at test. …

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

The Influence of Reducing Inter-Item Context Cue Formation on Memory Scores
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

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

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.