Ideas for Internal Assessment
This is by no means a definitive list of all the topics that students could choose to explore in their internal assessment. Students should choose something that they clearly understand and is easy to replicate.
Imagery vs rehearsal: participants recall more words from a (20) word list when they use an imagery method (forming a vivid mental image and linking each item to the last in a dynamic fashion) than if they use either rehearsal (repeat each item until you hear the next) or no particular method (no prior instruction). Bower (1967); Paivio (1971)
Loftus and Palmer (1974); Loftus and Zanni (1975). Participants asked how fast cars were going when they ‘smashed’ into each other, after viewing a car accident, report greater speeds than do participants asked the speed when they ‘hit’ each other.
Does background music impair memory? (e.g. Perham & Vizard 2010).
The role of colour on testing. Each had the same set of questions, but one was red and the other was blue. Because red is a danger signal, it has been shown to make people score worse on intelligence tests (Journal of Experimental Psychology)
The use of chunking. Based on Miller’s original research. Click here for more information.
Exercise and memory. Does taking a exercise prior to memorizing a list of words help one to remember more? Etnier & Labban (2011)
Highlighting vs. writing. The purpose of this study is to determine which rehearsal method; highlighting words or writing them down while you study them, increases the recollection of the words.
Shuell (1969) two groups of participants were presented with a list of words. For one group the words were in a random order, whereas for the other group they were arranged under categories. After looking at the list, participants were asked to recall as many words as they could remember. Participants who had the organised lists recalled significantly more words than participants who had random lists.
Schema theory and memory. In one of Mandler’s studies participants were given 52 cards with a randomly selected word on each card, they were then asked to sort the cards into between 2 – 7 categories of their choice. They were then asked to recall as many words as they could remember. The more categories the participants had used, the higher their recall of words.
Sattler (1992) A within-subjects design comparing digit recall for numerical stimuli presented in an auditory and visual format. The independent variable in this study is the format in which the stimulus appears (auditory vs. visual), and the dependent variable is the length of the digit sequence that the research participant can recall. In another study done by Drewnowski and Murdock (1980), a visual list of English words was found to have an immediate recall of 4.82 words while an auditory representation of this same list led to a memory span of 5.36, a statistically significant variance
Self reference and memory. Click here for more information.
In Don Simon’s book the Invisible Gorilla, there are several studies about attention. In one participants are asked to recall a list of words. In another, they are asked to identify words that were on a list. The memory was higher for those who had to do passive recall than for those who had to do active recall.
Memory interference: Participants have to learn a list of words and then recall them. However, memory is interfered with by learning another list of words but some subjects learn this interfering list before the main list and some learn it after the main list to see which has the greater effect.
Distraction and memory. Peterson & Peterson (1959, p. 194) In the memory task, the participant viewed a trigram of consonants (e.g., GKT, WCH,...) and then performed a number of algebraic computations (e.g., counting backward by 3s) for less than 20 seconds. The data showed that recall of the trigram was less likely as the participant worked on the algebraic computations for longer durations.
Working Memory: The extent to which phonological similarity of list words impairs short-term-memory recall was investigated in two experiments. Experiment 1 showed that the phonological-similarity effect occurred both when list words were repeatedly sampled from a small set and when they were new on every trial, both when word-order information was required and when it was not. Furthermore, the adverse effect of phonological similarity on recall was apparent on the initial lists recalled, did not change over trials, and cannot be attributed to increasing levels of proactive inhibition across lists. In Experiment 2, subjects were required to count repeatedly to six during list presentation. Concurrent irrelevant articulation lowered recall and abolished the phonological similarity effect for both repeated and novel word lists. PDF available here.
Schema Theory: Anderson & Pitchert
Other areas of research
Stroop effect (Dyer 1973)
Word and letter recognition: Visual search: Time taken to find X’s hidden in a four column list of similar shaped letters (Y, Z etc.) is longer than for lists with letters such as S, R, or P. Alternatively: Participants will take longer to find 0 among letters if it is called zero than when it is called letter ‘oh’ and vice versa – Jonides & Gleitman (1972).
Social Facilitation Theory - The idea is that people tend to perform better when in groups than when on their own. Subjects can be given tasks (e.g. word searches) either in groups or on their own to test this theory. Eg. Triplet (1898). Zajonc & Sales (1966)
The halo effect: The effects of physical attractiveness: The halo effect states that attractive people are perceived as having more positive attributes. Click here for more information.
Meyer & Schvaneveldt (1971) provided early evidence supporting network models by illuminating the effects of priming. In their classic experiment, these researchers measured response times as people made lexical decisions (determining whether or not two letter strings, presented simultaneously, were both words). In conditions in which both stimuli were words, some of the pairs were related (e.g., BREAD and BUTTER) and others were unrelated (e.g., CHAIR and FLOWER). The key finding from this investigation was that response time was faster for related words than for unrelated words.
Heuristics: Tversky and Kahneman’s (1973) ‘availability’ hypothesis. If people recall more items from one set than from another they assume (heuristically) that there actually were more in the former set. Demonstrate this by giving participants a set of names to remember containing 19 very famous males and 20 not so famous females. Since participants tend to recall more male names they tend to judge that more males were in the list.
Overjustification Effect Click here for more information.
Anchoring bias experiments. For example, 10! in ascending and descending order. Tversky, A.; Kahneman, D. (1974). "Judgments under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases". Another example is participants are asked to fill in a “group number” on their papers. One group is given a low 2-digit number (e.g. 13) and the second is given a higher value (e.g. 97). Then the participants are asked to consider whether they would pay x number of dollars for items whose value they did not know, such as wine, chocolate and computer equipment. They were then asked to bid for these items, with the result that the audience members with higher two-digit numbers would submit bids that were between 60 percent and 120 percent higher than those with the lower social security numbers, which had become their anchor. (Edward Teach, "Avoiding Decision Traps," (1 June 2004))