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Understanding Children's Activity Memory: The Role of Outcomes

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Abstract:

In three experiments the effectiveness of activity outcomes as memory cues was investigated. In the first experiment, 5-year-olds participated in four activities. In two of these activities, action results were maintained during the unfolding of the activity and perceptually preserved in the activity's end product. In the other two activities, action results “disappeared” from view during the activity and were transformed within the end product. Each activity was recalled under one of four cue conditions: verbal, object, action, and reenactment. For half of the children, the end product was also present during retrieval. Memory for the two types of activities varied with cue condition and with the presence of the end product. In a second experiment, children attempted to describe how the end products could be recreated from the materials used in the activities without participating in them. Patterns of performance confirmed that memory and not inference was responsible for the effects observed in the first experiment. In a third experiment, 5- and 7-year-olds participated in activities of the two types. Within each, picture supports were provided to investigate whether the perceptual availability of action results during encoding influences memory. Results are discussed with respect to an activity memory framework and implications for science education.

Keywords: activity; cues; event; memory; preschool; school-age.; science education

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Wayne State University 2: Skidmore College

Publication date: June 1, 2001

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