Do Mnemonic Memories Fade as Time Goes By? Here's Looking Anew!


Recent research has suggested that information acquired through the mnemonic keyword method fades rapidly as time goes by - especially in the absence of an immediate test. Five experiments were conducted to investigate various aspects of this issue and our results turned up the "usual suspects." That is, we found consistent mnemonic advantages in acquisition (all experiments) as well as delayed mnemonic advantages in cases where students received an immediate test on studied items (Experiments 2, 3, 4, and 5). Further, and of special interest here, even in theabsenceof an immediate test, we found delayed mnemonic advantages (Experiments 3, 4, and 5). Nevertheless, these positive delayed findings were tempered by the observation that, in terms of absolute number retained, there was a somewhat faster forgetting rate for mnemonic students in comparison to repetition controls. In our discussion, we examine other delayed-recall indicators (relative differences and conditional probabilities) in an effort to better compare the "forgetting" of mnemonic and repetition participants. A theoretical explanation for the fragility of mnemonic memories, and implications for future research, are provided. © 1998 Academic Press.

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Contemporary Educational Psychology