Depth, Spread, and Congruence of Encoding in Memory
TEXAS UNIV AT AUSTIN DEPT OF EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY
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Four studies were performed to evaluate the effects of depth, spread elaboration, and congruence of encoding on memory performance. Under graduate students of educational psychology were trained in one or several strategies for learning paired associates, word recognition, or free recall of words. The several strategies employed differed in the depth, spread, or congruence of the encoding required. Strategies which were assumed to emphasize depth or congruence of encoding were found to facilitate recall. Self-reported strategies were most likely to facilitate recall when they involved congruent encoding or were few in number. Results were interpreted as providing support for the view that depth and congruence of encoding facilitates retention, but there was no evidence for a beneficial effect of spread of encoding. Postexperimental questionnaire data indicated, however, that one of the strategies taught was not widely used by participants. In view of this finding, a case for spread of encoding is still possible. Results emphasize the need to obtain independent data on the strategies which participants report as actually being used.