THE EFFECT OF PRIOR KNOWLEDGE ON THE SPATIAL PERFORMANCE, VERBAL SHORT TERM MEMORY AND VERBAL LONG TERM MEMORY OF GOOD AND POOR READERS

DONNA RATCHFORD RECHT, Marquette University

Abstract

This study was conducted to determine whether the amount of prior knowledge that an individual has about a topic influences an individual's memory for such information following silent reading. Specifically this study investigated how prior knowledge influences the amount of short term nonverbal and verbal memory and long term retention in students of high and low ability in reading comprehension. Sixty-four junior high students were divided into four equal-sized groups on the basis of preassessed reading ability (high, low) and preassessed amount of existing prior knowledge about baseball (high, low). Each subject silently read an account of a half inning of a baseball game. After reading, each subject recalled the text nonverbally by moving figures. They verbally retold the story, and then summarized it after an interpolated task. Finally, they sorted passage sentences on the basis of idea importance. The first purpose of this study was to determine the effect of prior knowledge on recall. A multivariate analysis of variance revealed a signficant main effect of prior knowledge (p < .00001) on all dependent variables both verbal and nonverbal as well as short and long term memory measures. The second purpose of this study was to determine the effect of ability on recall. The main effect of ability was marginally significant (p < .07). The univariate effect of ability was significant on the short term but not on the long term measures. However, due to the marginal multivariate significance of ability, the univariate results must be interpreted with caution. This study delineates the powerful effect of prior knowledge on short and long term recall. In some cases, prior knowledge seems to facilitate recall to a greater degree than ability. This study suggests that educators must build reader background before reading. In addition, lack of comprehension may be interpreted in part to lack of adequate background rather than reader ability.

Recommended Citation

DONNA RATCHFORD RECHT, "THE EFFECT OF PRIOR KNOWLEDGE ON THE SPATIAL PERFORMANCE, VERBAL SHORT TERM MEMORY AND VERBAL LONG TERM MEMORY OF GOOD AND POOR READERS" (January 1, 1986). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. Paper AAI8618717.
http://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI8618717

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