Assessing summary writing as a memory strategy

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Arie Spirgel (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Peter Delaney

Abstract: Writing a summary has been described as the most effective text-retention strategy. However, a review of the literature suggests that existing experiments on summarizing fail to include some of the most productive methods for improving text-retention. The current set of six experiments was designed to overcome these deficits and to create conditions in which text-summarization is optimized. Experiments 1 and 2 investigated how distributing summarizing sessions influences text-retention, and Experiment 3 investigated the influence of difficult retrieval conditions on summarizing and text-retention. Motivated by the large increase in retention associated with including an idea unit in a summary in Experiments 1 - 3, Experiment 4 was designed to examine the special status of included idea units by comparing summarizing to underlining. Experiment 4 replicated the claim that including an idea unit in a summary is associated with an increase in retention relative to underlining or not including an idea unit. To test if including an idea unit in a summary in fact causes an increase in retention, Experiment 5 included a condition in which participants were instructed to identify and include at least 10 of the most important points in their summaries. Because participants had difficulty identifying the important elements of the text, which had been identified a priori by the researcher, it was not possible to examine the causal effects of writing on memory. A different approach was thus taken in Experiment 6, in which participants read a text containing information meant to distract them from the main ideas, creating conditions in which it could be evaluated how writing a summary influences people's ability to identify most important elements of a text.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2011
Learning, Memory, Retrieval, Spacing, Summary, Writing
Learning strategies $v Case studies
Memory $x Testing $v Case studies
Learning, Psychology of $v Case studies

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