Psychology ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 8-22-1975


Three experiments examined the effects of part-to-whole transfer of organization in recall and recognition memory. The experiments modified the traditional part-to-whole transfer procedures in that subjects initially learned a list of perceptually grouped letter sequences and certain aspects of those sequences (letter elements and/or group structure) were part of larger sequences presented for second-list recall and recognition. The results of the first experiment provided clear support for an organizational interpretation of transfer effects in part-to-whole learning. Subjects in this experiment exhibited a facilitation in second-­list learning which was the result of prior exposure to perceptual groupings that were common to the first- and second-list sequences. No positive transfer resulted in the learning of second-list sequences that contained the first-list sequences in reorganized form.

The second experiment dealt with an investigation of part-to-whole transfer under conditions in which subjects were informed or uninformed of the inclusive relationship between the first- and second-list sequences. This experiment indicated a superiority in recall and recognition of letter sequences presented in second-list learning for informed experimental subjects relative to uninformed subjects, as well as a decrement in second-­list recall and recognition for the uninformed experimental subjects relative to the control group.

The third experiment was concerned with a procedure that equated the interitem associative strength between letter elements of the sequences presented for first-list learning, and the effects of this procedure upon performance in second-list learning. The results of this experiment provided substantial evidence against the frequency analysis of part/whole learning since this analysis would predict facilitation in memory for second-list sequences based upon prior exposure to letter elements that composed the first-list sequences and were common to both lists. As in Experiment I, the subjects in Experiment III did not benefit from prior learning of first-list sequences that were contained within larger sequences presented for second-list recall and recognition.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Henry C. Ellis

Second Committee Member

Thomas P. Friden

Third Committee Member

Carol Conrad

Fourth Committee Member

G. Robert Grice

Fifth Committee Member

John P. Gluck

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