Understanding the Contribution of Meaningful Processing to the Testing Effect
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The testing effect is an interesting phenomenon, with a wealth of support for its robustness. The basic idea is that attempting to learn something to retain over time is more fruitful when items are retrieved from memory or tested, than when items are restudied. This area of research has seen much attention in recent years, with the focus moving away from the conditions under which the effect can be found, to understanding the specific mechanisms that drive the effect. However, progress in this regard appears to be slow and contradictory. This thesis aims to address the gap in our understanding by exploring the concept of meaningful processing in relation to the testing effect. Here, how differences in meaningful processing relate to the testing effect is explored in text materials based on areas in the literature that have shown promise. More specifically meaningful processing will be explored herein based on; in chapters 2 and 3, how amenable study items are to meaningful, elaborate processing during retrieval (experiments 1-4), in chapter 3, whether there is a retrieval benefit associated with study items more meaningfully processed than less meaningfully processed, based on their structure (experiments 5 & 6). In chapter 4, differences in meaningful processing are further explored based on properties of the practice task as opposed to the study materials (experiments 7-10). Chapter 5 concludes that the results show little evidence that differences in meaningful processing of the study materials alter the magnitude of the testing effect (experiments 1-6), but some evidence that differences in meaningful processing during the practice task alter the magnitude of the testing effect (experiment 7).