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In this experiment we replicated a study done by Bransford and Johnson (1972). They conducted research on memory using schemas. All human beings possess categorical rules or scripts that they use to interpret the world. New information is processed according to how it fits into these rules, called schemas. Bransford and Johnson did research on memory for text passages that had been well comprehended or poorly comprehended. Their major finding was that memory was superior for passages that were made easy to comprehend. For our experiment we used two different groups of students. We gave them different titles and read them a passage with the intentions of finding out how many ideas they were able to recall. Since our first experiment found no significant difference, we conducted a second experiment except this time we gave the title either before or after the passage was read. We found no significant difference between the title types, but we did find a significant difference between before and after. We also found a significant title type x presentation interaction. We then performed a third experiment involving showing objects before and after the passage was read. There we did encountersome significant findings. The importance and lack of findings is discussed and we also discuss suggestions for future studies, and how to improve our results.

Invoking schemas as an aid in recall: A replication of Bransford and Johnson (1972)

Experiment 1 represents a replication of an experiment done by Bransford & Johnson in 1972. During their experiment they invoked a schema which is an organizational or conceptual pattern in the mind. They gave their participants different titles, some received a specific title and some received a non-specific title, some participants were given the title before the passage was read and some after the passage was read. After determining who got which title they read them a passage looking to see how many different ideas from the passage they could recall. They came to the conclusion that those who were given specific titles and that had them given to them prior to the passage was read were able to recall more then those that received a non-specific title or those that were given the title after the passage was read. The results do show that schemas do help with recall depending on how they are used and when. For our first replication of the experiment we decided to use one of their techniques of experimenting, which involved giving a specific title and a non-specific title. We expect to come up with the same results as Bransford and Johnson, that those given the specific title will show a greater number of words recalled over those who are given a non-specific title.

Another model is the Atkinson-Shiffrin Model of human memory which attempts to include all aspects of memory. This multi-store model of memory was proposed by Richard Atkinson and Richard Shiffrin in 1968. It is a structural model that suggests there are three distinct storage systems; Sensory Store, Short-Term Memory (STM), and Long-Term Memory (LTM). Information moves through these systems under the control of various cognitive processes such as attention and rehearsal.

For our second experiment we decided to replicate experiment 1 again except this time we extended it by adding a second independent variable. Instead of just giving the students two different title types we also made it so that some participants received the title before the passage was read and others received the title after the passage was read. By doing this we hope to come up with the same results as Bransford and Johnson (1972).

Experiment 1



The participants in this study consisted of twenty undergraduate students enrolled in two classes of introductory psychology at Fitchburg State College in Fitchburg MA. All the students were first semester freshman and their professor informed us that no relevant content or material that pertained to this experiment was covered in her course. All the participants were treated according to APA ethical guidelines. In completing this experiment all the students received a small amount of extra credit points toward their course.


The experiment was conducted as follows; first the experimenters greeted the participants and handed out consent forms to each individual along with a blank piece of paper. After all the consent forms were signed, one experimenter collected them. Then the experimenter wrote on the board either the specific title (doing laundry), or the non-specific title (a simple procedure). The titles remained on the board for five seconds, and then were erased. At that point they were then asked to listen to a passage:

The procedure is actually quite simple. First you arrange things into different groups. Of course, one pile may be sufficient depending on how much there is to do. If you have to go somewhere else due to lack of facilities that is the next step; otherwise you are pretty well set. It is important not to overdo things. That is, it is better to do too few things at once than too many. In the short run this may not seem important but complications can easily arise. A mistake can be expensive as well. At first the whole procedure will seem complicated. Soon, however, it will become just another fact of life. It is difficult to foresee any end to the necessity for this task in the immediate future, but then one can never tell. After the procedure is completed one arranges the materials into different groups again. Then they can be put into their appropriate places. Eventually they will be used once more and the whole cycle will then have to be repeated. However, that is part of life (Bransford & Johnson, 1972).

After the passage was read aloud to the participants, they were then given two minutes to write down as many of the ideas they could recall from the passage. They were then asked to put their pens and pencils down. At that time all the response sheets were collected and the participants were debriefed and thanked for their participation.


To come up with the results of this experiment we analyzed three different types of recall. The recall of ideas, recall of number of words excluding all the articles, and the recall of the number of all the words together. All three variables were analyzed separately using three independent means t-tests. The analysis of the recall of ideas indicated no significant difference between the mean of the specific title



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