Children's Use And Transfer Of A Retrieval Strategy

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The two experiments reported here deal with children's adoption of the alphabet as a retrieval scheme in free recall and transfer tasks. The alphabet provides a number of advantages for examining retrieval skills among children. It offers a well-structured format that can be recited quite easily by young children. The alphabet also has features that can be exploited during recall in order to facilitate performance. Each experiment consisted of three phases. Second and fifth graders were the subjects in each.;During Phase I, the subjects were exposed to a number of A (letter) - B (word) pairs, where each B item started with a different letter of the alphabet. Free recall performance was enhanced to the level of cued recall scores when subjects were administered instructions to produce the alphabetic retrieval strategy. Fifth graders achieved significant levels of alphabetic organization even without instructions. Although second graders tended not to use the strategy on their own initiative, they showed the competence to perform it when prompted. In addition, it was found that both Grade 2 and Grade 5 subjects who had produced the strategy, either through training or spontaneously, were likely to maintain its use during a series of prompted free recall trials (Phase II).;In Experiment 1, the transfer task was initiated by having the children learn B-C pairs, where the C items were functional or semantic associates of the B items. Subjects were asked to engage in free recall of the C items. The question was whether subjects would transfer the alphabetic retrieval strategy. The particular form of the strategy that was examined involved production of A-B-C mediational chains, where the A items are generated in alphabetical order. Grade 2 subjects performed this strategy during transfer if their earlier training included a description and explanation of the strategy characteristics. By contrast, the fifth graders used the strategy in the transfer task if it had been performed (with or without training) during Phases I or II. This pegword retrieval task was used to highlight the cueing property of a retrieval plan. . . . (Author's abstract exceeds stipulated maximum length. Discontinued here with permission of school.) UMI

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