SUBJECTIVE ORGANIZATION AND THE OPTIMIZATION OF FREE RECALL LEARNING
LINCOLN, CHARLES EBENEZER
Doctor of Philosophy
An interactive method for structural analysis of the subjective organization of human memory is developed which is based upon analysis of interitem proximities derived from free recall interresponse times. The proximity analysis is shown to be effective in revealing organizational structure through the use of both cluster and multidimensional scaling analyses. This technique is tested in a series of multitrial free recall experiments in which the presentation order of stimuli on trial N + 1 is determined by a real-time cluster analysis of recall data from the previous N trials. In the Clustered condition, items on the second and subsequent trials are presented blocked by clusters. This condition is contrasted with Random, Yoked and Fixed presentation orders, using both strongly and weakly categorizable lists. The Yoked group learned faster than the Random group with categorized lists and not as fast with uncategorized lists, indicating that the clustering had some effect upon developing organizational structure. Surprisingly, the Clustered group learned only slightly faster than the Yoked and Random groups, and not as fast as the Fixed group with both types of lists. These results are explained in terms of the qualitative nature of the information provided to the learner in each of the experimental conditions. This structural analysis approach to the measurement of memory organization is recommended for future research in semantic memory.