Schedule of Conditions, Reenactment Experiments





Long-term Test

Renactment conditions Immediate 2-week 8-week

Control conditions 1 visit

No reenactment 1 visit (26 mos.)

Subset A Subset B

Experiments 1 and 2: Effects of Timing

Day 1 Day 1 Day 1

Day 1

Day 1 2 weeks 8 weeks

8 weeks 10 weeks 16 weeks

8 weeks 8 weeks

Experiment 3: Subset Reenactment

Day 1 2 weeks 8 weeks

Day 1 2 weeks 8 weeks

8 months 8 months 10 months

8 months

Source: Hudson & Sheffield (1998).

all children reenacted all of the activities during the reenactment session. After another time delay, children returned to the laboratory for a recall test session when they were encouraged to reproduce the target actions in the same way as in the reenactment session.

Three reenactment conditions were included in this study (see Table 9.1). An immediate reenactment group re-enacted the activities on the same day as their training. After they were shown how to perform the activities, they left the playroom for 15 minutes before returning for an immediate (same day) reenactment session. They then returned to the laboratory 8 weeks later for a recall test session. Children in the 2-week reenactment condition returned 2 weeks after training for reenactment and were also tested for recall 8 weeks later, 10 weeks after training. Children in the 8-week reenactment condition returned 8 weeks after training for reenactment and were tested for recall 8 weeks later, 16 weeks after training. Thus, across reenactment conditions, the interval between training and reenact-ment varied but the interval between reenactment and testing was the same for all groups.

Two control groups were also included in this study. The one visit control group was not provided with training, but participated in a recall session just like the other groups. This group controlled for the potential for children to simply figure out what to do with the toys when given verbal prompts. Children in the no reenactment condition were trained to perform the activities and were tested for recall 8 weeks later, but did not participate in a reenactment session.

Results indicated that, regardless of when the reminder occurred, reenactment extended 18-month-olds' recall: As shown in Figure 9.1, all reenactment groups recalled more activities than the control groups. But equally important, the timing of reenactment strongly influenced children's recall. Reenactment was more effective after a significant time delay; children in the 8-week reenact-ment condition recalled significantly more actions in recall testing than children in the immediate and 2-week reenactment conditions. Similar to results from infant research, reminders may be more effective when presented after an experience has been stored in long-term memory. One reason for this may be that retrieval involves more reconstruction when the memory is almost forgotten then when memory traces are new and more coherent (Rovee-Collier, 1995).

In a follow-up investigation, we contacted participants from the reenactment conditions and asked them to return to the laboratory 6 months after their last visit. We were curious if children would show evidence of recall after such a long interval. We compared the performance of the returning participants to the performance of naive 26-month-olds to test whether the returning subjects were actually remembering their prior experiences and were not simply better able to infer how to use the props. Timing effects were even stronger in long-term recall. As shown in Figure 9.2, even 6 months later, children who had reenacted the activities after 8 weeks recalled more activities than children in the other two reenactment groups. In fact, children's performance in the immediate reenactment

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