Serial Learning (Encyclopedia of Psychology)
Recalling patterns of facts or stimuli in the order in which they were presented.
In some research on memory for words, the learner is exposed to stimuli to be remembered and later recalls those stimuli in the same order in which they initially appeared. This procedure is called serial learning. In general, when people must recall stimuli in a particular order, they remember less material than when allowed to engage in free recall, which imposes no constraints on the order or recall.
Hermann Ebbinghaus is credited with conducting the first studies of verbal memory involving serial learning. Most serial learning studies use a procedure called serial anticipation, where one stimulus is presented at a time and the learner uses that word as a cue for the next word. The second word then serves as a cue for the third, and so on. One of the most consistent findings in research involving single words or nonsense syllables involves the serial position function or effect: learners show greatest recall for stimuli at the beginning of the list, and good but somewhat less recall for items appearing at the end of the list. Stimuli in the middle of the list fare least well. When learners must remember single words or nonsense syllables in free recall, the greatest recall usually occurs at the end of the list, with good but lower...
(The entire section is 429 words.)
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