Date of Award

5-1-2013

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Habib, Reza

Abstract

Research has shown that tests can alter the very memories that they aim to evaluate (e.g. Carpenter & DeLosh, 2005; Roediger & Karpicke, 2006a). Such mnemonic enhancement in long-term retention as a result of testing is referred to as the testing effect (see Roediger & Karpicke, 2006b for an extensive review; also Delaney, Verkoeijen, & Spirgel, 2010; Pashler, Rohrer, Cepeda, & Carpenter, 2007). Although various hypotheses have been proposed to explain this effect, the exact mechanisms by which testing confers an advantage on memorability remain uncertain (see Delaney et al., 2010; Roediger & Karpicke, 2006b, for reviews). Two experiments were carried out to examine whether the mnemonic benefits of testing are due to greater attention being directed to tested items in comparison to restudied items. In Experiment 1 participants in both the restudy and testing conditions studied word pairs either under full attention or while performing a concurrent auditory discrimination task. A final free-recall test was administered under full attention 5 min after the restudy or testing phase. It was predicted that the mnemonic impairment induced by dividing attention would be larger for the testing group than the restudy group. The results showed the interaction of learning condition (restudy vs. testing) and attention (full attention vs. divided attention) was not significant. Experiment 2 adopted the opposite approach: to enhance rather than diminish attention to the to-be-remembered items during the restudy and testing. By manipulating the priority of the concurrent task and memory task, it was assumed that more emphasis on the memory task would draw and boost participants' attention and consequently that the restudy group would benefit more from this attention enhancement than the testing group. The results showed that different emphases did not affect final memory in both restudy and testing groups. Experiment 1 and Experiment 2 together suggest that attention may not play a role in the testing effect.

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