A Study of Short-term Memory Recall of Pictures, Words, and Pictures and Words Presented Together
Sponsored by Missouri Western State University Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation DUE-97-51113
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MILLS, K. L. & MCMULLAN, H. K. (2004). A Study of Short-term Memory Recall of Pictures, Words, and Pictures and Words Presented Together. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 7. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved September 21, 2017 .

A Study of Short-term Memory Recall of Pictures, Words, and Pictures and Words Presented Together
KRISTIN L. MILLS, HEATHER K. MCMULLAN
Missouri Western State University DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (cronk@missouriwestern.edu)
ABSTRACT
The purpose of this study was to learn if people would be better able to have short-term recall for pictures, words, or pictures and words presented together. For the methods of this project we had three groups of males and females of varying ages. One group saw a list of 18 words, one group say a set of 18 pictures that corresponded with the words, and the third group saw those pictures and words presented together. Subjects were given one minute to review their items, then there was a thirty second delay period after which they were given one minute to recall the items. The results were statistical findings that showed that subjects were significantly better at remembering the pictures and the words presented together as opposed to the words alone. The conclusions are that the results of this study supported the hypothesis in that pictures and words together were better remembered than words alone, but pictures and words together were not significantly better than pictures alone. These findings may apply to a number of situations, including teaching methods as well as an aid for studying. Further studies may include a closer look at gender and/or age differences for short-term memory recall using the same method


INTRODUCTION


METHOD

PARTICIPANTS
The researchers had three groups, with ten people in each group. All were selected at random. There were 15 males and 15 females. The mean age of the subjects was 25.3 years old.

MATERIALS
There were three different scales handed out to the subjects. One scale was of words only, one with pictures only, and one with pictures and the word of the picture next to it (see Figure 1).

PROCEDURE
The researchers randomly selected 30 people as subjects in this study. There were three groups of ten people, and each experimenter ran the study with five people from each group to balance for experimenter bias. The subjects performed tasks on an individual basis so the researchers were able to accurately record the words and/or pictures they recalled. Each subject was either shown a set of 18 pictures, a list of 18 words, or the 18 pictures with the word of that picture next to it. The words that were listed to learn were the words of the pictures that the other group was exposed to. The page with the picture and the corresponding word was the pictures and words that the other two groups were shown.The subjects were given one of three scales and had one minute to examine the scale while trying to learn it. The scale was then removed for 30 seconds. Lastly, the subject was asked to recall as many items as they could, and was then allowed one minute to do so. While the subject was recalling items the researcher wrote down which ones were correctly recalled. On the same paper where the subjectís results are recorded their sex and age were recorded as well.


RESULTS
The researchers computed a one-way ANOVA comparing items recalled for words, pictures, and pictures and words presented together. A significant difference was found among the words alone, and the pictures and words together. (F(2,27)=.018, p<.05). Tukey`s HSD was used to determine the nature of the differences between the words and the words and pictures together. This analysis revealed that subjects with the words to remember scored lower (m=8.6, sd=2.32) than subjects with pictures and words to remember (m=12.4, sd=3.66). Subjects who had pictures alone (m=11.2, sd=2.30) were not significantly different from either of the other two groups. (See Figure 2).


DISCUSSION
The results of this study supported the hypothesis in that pictures and words together were better remembered than words alone. The hypothesis was not supported in the aspect that pictures and words together were not significantly better than pictures alone. Short-term memory is the part of memory where items and sensory information first enter and are temporarily held. Short-term memory lasts for about 20 to 30 seconds after which it is lost, or begins the process to enter into long-term memory (Lemme, 2002). In a study done by Srivastava and Purohit (1979) short-term retention for pictures was found to be superior to short-term retention for words. When distractions were presented during the picture and word recall both saw decreases, but memory became even more decreased for word recall. In text books there is a vast amount of information that must be remembered, and sometimes along with the text there will be picture to aid in understanding and remembering that information. An experiment by Rusted and Coltheart (1979) tested a group of nine to ten year olds who read various passages; some with pictures, and some without. In the writings where pictures were presented their ability to recall the passages greatly improved. A possible limitation of this study was that subjects did not always participate in the same location. Some subjects performed the task in a classroom where other students were present, while others performed the task in a room where they were only with the experimenter. These findings may apply to a number of situations, including teaching methods as well as an aid for studying. Further studies may include a closer look at gender and/or age differences for short-term memory recall using the same method.


REFERENCES
Lemme, B.H. (2002). Development in Adulthood. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Rusted, J., & Coltheart, V. (1979). The effect of pictures on the retention of novel words and prose passages. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 28, 516-524.

Srivasrava, A.K., & Purhoit, A.K. (1979). Short-term memory for pictures and their verbal labels (words): a test of dual-coding hyposthesis. Psychologia: An International Journal of Psychology in the Orient, 22, 88-94.


Figure 1


Figure 2

Submitted 4/22/2004 12:31:37 PM
Last Edited 4/29/2004 12:56:24 PM
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