Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

The Negative Cascade of Incongruent Generative Study-Test Processing in Memory and Metacomprehension

Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

The Negative Cascade of Incongruent Generative Study-Test Processing in Memory and Metacomprehension

Article excerpt

Previous research suggests that when participants engage in generative study activities, the processing of text is enhanced and improvements in memory and metacomprehension result. However, few studies have investigated the influence of processes required by the testing situation or the interaction between encoding and retrieval processes on metacomprehension accuracy. The present experiments examine whether the congruency of processes generated during study and required at retrieval affect memory, metacomprehension, and control processes. Study orientation and test type were congruent (i.e., letter-reinsertion: detailed test), incongruent (i.e., letter-reinsertion: conceptual test), or neutral (i.e., read: conceptual test). After generative study, but before testing, participants made metacomprehension predictions for previously studied texts. Controlled strategy selection was measured in Experiment 2. When processes at study and test were congruent, cued recall performance and metacomprehension predictions were more accurate than when study and test were incongruent. For incongruent conditions, metacomprehension predictions were no better than chance; thus, controlled strategy selection was based on inaccurate metacomprehension, thereby further penalizing memory performance relative to congruent conditions. These findings extend a transfer-appropriate processing framework to metacomprehension.

Integral to the process of reading is one's ability to assess whether the read information has been comprehended and can later be recalled. This introspective process requires that we, as learners, consciously evaluate various components of learning to decide whether we have suecessfiilly mastered the material (Flavell, 1979). Consider, for example, the student preparing for an exam. Ideally, the student sets a desired state of mastery of the material and regularly monitors to see whether that desired state has been reached. If the desired state has not yet been reached, the student implements additional controlled processes (e.g., allocating additional study time) to master the material. Monitoring the comprehension of to-be-learned material, described as metacomprehension, can include judgments about levels of comprehension and learning of the text, predictions about future memory for the material, and the ability to correct oneself while reading (Rudell & Speaker, 1985). As predictions about future memory become more accurate, the reading process can become more efficient.

The present study examines conditions that may improve predictions about future performance. Preliminary studies have identified generative encoding activities as important factors in metacomprehension accuracy, We extend these findings by investigating the effect of two generative activities on metacomprehension within a transfer appropriate processing (TAP) framework (McDaniel, Friedman, & Bourne, 1 978; Morris, Bransford, & Franks, 1977). According to TAP, the effectiveness of generative study activities will depend on the extent to which the processes required by the study activity correspond to those required at retrieval. As one example, Nairne and Widner (1987) demonstrated that test appropriateness mediated the generation effect in nonwords. In two experiments, we confirm the predictions made by the TAP framework, using stimuli and memory tests reflective of educational settings. More importantly, for the first time, we examine the influence of TAP on metacomprehension by investigating whether metacomprehension predictions and study-time allocation are affected by the relationship between processing at study and processing at test. Before reporting the experiments, we first develop the pertinent empirical and theoretical background,

Early investigations (i.e., Glenberg & Epstein, 1985; Glenberg, Sanocki, Epstein, & Morris, 1987; Glenberg, Wilkinson, & Epstein, 1982; Maki & Berry, 1984) into metacomprehension reported only small or no relationships between predictions of future performance and later recall of text material. …

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