Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Why Is Knowledge Updating after Task Experience Incomplete? Contributions of Encoding Experience, Scaling Artifact, and Inferential Deficit

Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Why Is Knowledge Updating after Task Experience Incomplete? Contributions of Encoding Experience, Scaling Artifact, and Inferential Deficit

Article excerpt

Abstract Knowledge updating occurs when people learn about the impacts of variables on memory after experiencing their effects. For instance, judgments of learning (JOLs) for encoding strategies (e.g., imagery and repetition) show no difference during a first study-test trial; however, during a second trial, JOLs better reflect the benefits of the more effective strategy. Although this outcome indicates some knowledge updating, JOLs on a second trial rarely update to reflect the full impact of a given variable. We investigated several explanations for this incomplete updating. Evidence using prestudy JOLs from Experiments 1 and 2 disconfirmed the encoding-disrupts-updating (EDU) hypothesis, which is that the experience of encoding items on the second trial disrupts the use of new knowledge in making JOLs. In Experiment 3, we used binary JOLs to evaluate whether the lack of updating is an artifact of people not wanting to use extreme ratings, which accounted for some-but not all-of the incomplete updating. Finally, in Experiment 4, immediately after the test on the initial trial, participants received feedback about how many items they had recalled for each level of the focal variable, and their JOLs on the second trial still showed incomplete updating. Taken together, the evidence suggests that incomplete knowledge updating on JOLs arises from multiple factors, including a scaling artifact and the deficient use of accurate knowledge when making JOLs.

Keywords Judgments of learning . Metamemory . Knowledge updating

When students prepare for exams, they often use relatively ineffective strategies, presumably because they do not always know what works best (Bjork, Dunlosky, & Komell, 2013). Of interest in the present research was how people gain knowledge about which strategies (or encoding processes) impact their memory. For example, imagine students preparing for an exam, with two chapters of material to study. For one of the chapters, the students choose to reread the chapter (i.e., an ineffective strategy), and for the other chapter, they make flash cards to use for testing with feedback (i.e., a more effective strategy). After taking a test over these two chapters, the students realize that they remembered more from the latter chapter, and when preparing for subsequent tests, they make flash cards for all of the chapters. Thus, the students used performance on the test to update their knowledge about the effectiveness of the two strategies, and then used this knowledge to guide subsequent study. This process of monitoring performance to gain knowledge about the impacts that different variables have on memory was initially investigated by Brigham and Pressley ( 1988), and has since been referred to as knowledge updating.

Knowledge-updating methods and literature review

Before turning to our focal research question, we describe the general method used for exploring knowledge updating. In Dunlosky and Hertzog (2000), participants studied unrelated word pairs (e.g., "dog-spoon") with different encoding strategies in two study-test trials. For half of the pairs, participants were told to study the pair by forming an image of the two words interacting, and for the other half they were told to repeat the pair covertly for the duration of study. After studying each pair, a judgment of learning (JOL) was made, in which participants indicated how likely they were to remember the second word when given the first. The JOLs did not discriminate between the two encoding strategies; however, when participants were tested on the pairs, they remembered more pairs that had been encoded using imagery than through repetition. Thus, the participants were unaware that encoding pairs using imagery improved memory performance. To examine whether they updated their knowledge, a new list of word pairs was used for the second trial. The same pairs were not used on the second trial, so that JOLs could not be influenced by the participants' memory for the specific pairs from the first trial. …

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