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An experiment to investigation the effect of sorting words by their meaning and sorting words by their font style on the number of words correctly recalled.

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Title An experiment to investigation the effect of sorting words by their meaning and sorting words by their font style on the number of words correctly recalled. Contents Page Abstract 3 Introduction 3 - 4 Method 4 - 5 Design 4 Participants 4 Materials and Apparatus 4 Task 5 Procedure 5 Ethical Issues 5 Results 6 Summary of data 6 Discussion 6 - 7 Conclusion 7 References 7 Appendices 7 - 11 Appendix 1 8 Appendix 2 9 Appendix 3 10 Appendix 4 10 Appendix 5 11 Abstract This investigation is based on Craik and Tulvig's research (1975) into Craik and Lockhart's (1972) "Levels of Processing" theory. They asked participants questions about either the meaning, sound of appearance of a list of 60 words and they found that participants correctly recognised more of the words in the 'meaning' condition than in the 'sound' or 'appearance' condition put together. The aim of this study was to investigate whether words sorted by their meaning are better recalled, than the same words sorted by their appearance. The experimental hypothesis was "The participants who sort the words according to the meaning of the word will recall significantly more words than the participants who sort the words according to font style." The research method chosen was a field experiment using an independent groups design, where one group had to sort the words by their meaning and the other group had to sort the words by their font style. The target population was Y9 King Ecgbert School students in Sheffield, they were selected by opportunity sampling, and there were 10 participants in each group. Participants who sorted the words according to the font-style correctly recalled a mean number of 1.9 words, whereas the participants who sorted the words according to their meaning correctly recalled a mean number of 8.2. The experimental hypothesis was accepted and the researcher concluded that the amount of information correctly recalled can be increased if the level at which the information is processed is increased. ...read more.


* A set of 20 cards were made on the computer by the researcher. The cards were designed so that each one had a different word typed on it and they were all written in black text, size 18 so that the words were clear and there was no chance of participant mistaking handwriting. 5 of the 20 words were written in font Bauhaus 93, 5 in Curlz MT, 5 in Lucida Handwriting, and the other 5 in Poor Richard, for the participants in condition 1 to sort the words by font style. 5 of the words were fruits, 5 cities, 5 occupations and the other 5 colours, for the participants in condition 2 to sort the words by the meaning of the word. I decided to use these specific words because they are all common words that I felt would be familiar to the students and so decrease the risk of participants not being able to recall words because they did not know them. * A stop-clock was used by the researcher in order to accurately keep time limits on the participants sorting and recall times. * 20 pieces of lined paper and pens were used for the participants to record the words that they could recall. On 10 of these pieces of paper the researcher had written the number "1", to give to the participants in condition 1 and on the other 10 pieces of paper the researcher had written the number "2", to give to the participants in condition 2. The 20 words and the pieces of paper with "1" and "2" on are available in the appendix. Task The basic task of the experiment was for the participants to sort a set of 20 words into four categories, each category containing five words, in 60 seconds. Participants in condition 1 had to sort the words by font style and participants in condition 2 had to sort the words by meaning of the word. ...read more.


One limitation of this experiment was that the participants were selected through opportunity sampling so the participants were not a very good representative sample of the entire population and researcher bias could have had an influence (e.g. the researcher could have selected participants that they thought would provide them with the best results). To improve the experiment the researcher could use quota sampling by researching the percentage of males and females in the target population and then select a sample of participants for the experiment that contains the number of males and females that is proportional to the target population. This would mean the sample better represents the entire population. An idea for further research would be to ask half of the participants to place the words into complex sentences e.g. "Any good (Photographer) will tell that in order to capture the perfect photograph you need to have good lighting". And to ask the other half of the participants to place the words into simple sentences e.g. A "Photographer" takes photographs, to investigate whether further increasing the depth of processing, further increases the number of words recalled. This will make the experiment more realistic, since students are more likely to read and write sentences, rather than simply sorting words, so this will increase the ecological validity. In everyday life, we often have to process information that we need to remember later, and we often remember this information if it means something to us. Therefore, the results of this experiment do relate to real life because we often try to remember information by linking it with information that we already know. However, we must remember that we can forget information, even if we believe that it has been deeply processed because it is simply not immediately accessible for recall. Conclusion This experiment shows that information that we process deeply is better stored in the memory and so more likely to be remembered correctly, than information that is processed shallowly. This is known as the Levels of Processing, (Craik and Lockhart, 1972). ...read more.

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