Active control of study leads to improved episodic memory in children

Abstract

This paper reports an experiment testing whether volitional control over the presentation of stimuli leads to enhanced recognition memory in 6- to 8-year-old children. Children were presented with a simple memory game on an iPad. During the study phase, for half of the materials children could decide the order and pacing of stimuli presentation (active condition). For the other half of the materials, children observed the study choices of another child (yoked condition). We found that recognition performance was better for the objects studied in the active condition as compared to the yoked condition. Furthermore, we found that the memory advantages of active learning persisted over a one-week delay between study and test. Our results support pedagogical approaches that emphasize self-guided learning and show that even young children benefit from being able to control how they learn.


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