Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The experiments reported here investigated whether a question-answering strategy called elaborative-interrogation would facilitate children's acquisition of science facts. Of particular interest was whether the strategy would help students acquire facts that addressed their inaccurate beliefs, or what are otherwise known as misconceptions. Across two experiments, 140 students in grades 6 and 7 were asked to process individually presented statements. Half of these statements were consistent with their prior knowledge, whereas the remaining facts were inconsistent (i.e., subject to misconceptions). Half of the students in each grade were instructed to read the sentences aloud at a rate that allowed them to understand that the facts were true (reading-control). The remaining students were instructed to use their prior knowledge to answer why each fact was true (elaborative-interrogation). Two tests of recall (free and cued) and two tests of recognition (immediate and 14-day sentence selection questionnaires) followed. Experiment-2 subjects also completed recognition tests at 75-day and 180-day intervals. Elaborative-interrogation subjects performed significantly better on all memory measures than did reading-controls. The quality of elaborative-interrogation study responses did not significantly affect retention. All students had greater difficulty recognizing facts that addressed common misconceptions than novel facts, although elaborative-interrogation subjects expressed greater confidence in their correct selections than did reading-controls. It was concluded that elaborative-interrogation truly enhanced learning.



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