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Imagery and Gender -effect on Word Recall

Effect of Imagery and Gender on Word Recall among Primary School Pupils


This research investigated the “Effect of Imagery and Gender on Word Recall”. Hundred (100) pupils of Unizik Primary School, Awka were used in the study. The participants consisted of 51 boys and 49 girls. They were all primary 4 pupils. The participants’ age ranged from 7-11 years with mean age of 8.72 and deviation of 1.56. Those   presented with imagery have the mean value of 39.86 which is higher than the mean of those presented with no imagery is 32.12 on word recall. The pupils were told what to do afterward, divided in two groups, they are imagery group (A) and non imagery group (B).Test was administered to determined whether imagery and gender do affect word recall ability. Data obtained were subjected to 2-way analysis (ANOVA) to test two hypotheses. In the first hypothesis, the findings shows that there will be a significant difference between pupils who are taught with imagery on word recall was confirmed at F (1, 96) = 22.065 P <. 05 level of significance. Also, in the second hypothesis, the findings shows that there will be no significant difference between female and male pupils on word recall was accepted at F(1,96)=.67 P > .05 level of significant. The limitations of the study were also discussed and recommendations and suggestion for further studies was made.



Background to the Study

Imagery is a process by which sensory information is represented in working memory (Maclnnis and Price, 1987), thus, it represent a form of cognitive processing that does not utilize verbal or semantic means. Over the years, there has been a controversial issue over the way words and pictures should be used for adequate teaching, recognition and recall, Bonviolian (1983). Considerable research in cognitive psychology has demonstrated the facilitative effects of the imagery eliciting strategies on learning and memory (example, Bower 1972,  Paivio 1969).

It is generally accepted that an item studied as a picture will be better remembered than an item studied as a word. Most of us are familiar with the expression “a picture is worth a thousand words” and agree that memory for picture is remarkable. Indeed in most situations, it would be wise to assume that pictures will be better remembered than words. One picture can contain enough information  to convey many sentences. Children learn to follow stories in pictures books before they are able to comprehend written text. Pictures are often universal and not restricted by knowledge of a specific language. Conventional wisdom amongst many memory theorists also holds that pictures are better remembered than words on recognition tests, example, Ally & Budson (2007), Anderson (2009), Brady, konkle, Alvrez, & Oliva (2008). Paivios’ Dual code Theory, Paivio & Csapo (1973), explain this seemingly ubiquitous phenomena as follows: when pictures are studied, they elicit their verbal label and thus two representations or codes are stored in memory. In contrast, words do not automatically elicit a picture, and thus they have a relative impoverished memory representation. The redundant representation for pictures makes their retrieval or recognition more probable compared to stimuli studied as words.

One of the most common findings in memory research is that pictures are remembered better than words. For example, when shown a list of easily named pictures verses their corresponding verbal label, participants often have an easier time recalling the names of the pictures compared with the verbal labels. It is easier, to name a picture than to form a mental image of a word. It is also assumed that pictures have an advantage in memory recall because they contain a greater variety of unique visual features than do words. Supporting this view, some studies have shown that picture superiority effect can be eliminated by increasing the visual similarity among the pictures (Nelson, Reed, & Walling, 1976). For example, writing an answer on an essay exam often involves remembering bits of information, and then restructuring the remaining information based on these partial memories.

Research revealed that human beings remember 10 percent of what they heard, 50 percent of what is heard and seen and over 80 percent of what is heard, seen and done, Richard (1981). Dale (1957) also used the old Chinese proverb to express the same view:

I hear and forget.

I see and remember.

I do and I understand.

Learning aids are believed to reinforce the learning, since they stimulate, motivate, and activate learners within instructional process. Learning aids, which include visual aids, audio- visual aids, real objects and many others, are instructional materials and devices through which teaching and learning are conducted in educational setting. The use of concrete materials learning aids has always been intuitively appealing, Thompson (1999). Audio visual aids help to relate the general concept to actual reality. Words are often inadequate in communicating information or images of things of which the pupils has no direct experience. A model, picture, or a sketch can make the concept clear understandable. Audio visual aids are those devices which are used in classroom to encourage teaching, learning process and make it easier and interesting. Audio visual aids are the best tool for making teaching effective and the best dissemination of knowledge, (Rasual, Bukshb and  Batool, 2011).Learning aids are very adequate for the younger learners, it is not as relevant to advance learners because their ability to create construct, comprehend, make deduction and make value judgment are required. Teaching and learning become defective in the absence of appropriate instructional materials. Instructional materials are those materials used in the classrooms or workshop for instruction or demonstration purposes by students and teachers, Ibeneme (2000). Foresee (1972) saw them as actual equipment used as a hand- on process by learners in order to develop the degree of skills sought by the course requirements. In English language such instructional materials include word cards, pictures, objectives, puzzles and so on. These materials can be grouped into three sections.

  1. Audio: dealing with what is heard, music, drums, radio, tape recorder projectors, DVD and sound effect that can be heard.
  2. Visuals: things that can be seen comprising of posters, charts, chalk boards, fanned graph, flash cards, puzzles, objects (real),projectors, cartoons, television, computer CD, internet and so on.
  3. Multi- sensory: where pupils learns through the five senses sees, hear, smell, taste and touch. This can take the forms of role play, demonstration, models, simulations, and visits and so on.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, recall in psychology, is the act of retrieving information or events from the past while lacking a specific cue to help in retrieving the information. A person employs recall, for example, when reminiscing about a vacation or reciting a poem after hearing its title. Most students would rather take a multiple- choice test which utilizes recognition memory, than an essay test, which employs recall memory. Retrieval of information is much more likely if individuals are tested in the same physical context in which the event they are trying to recall occurred, Pavio, Yuile and Madigan (1968). If, for example, the physical context at the time of learning differs markedly from the physical setting at the time of an exam, retrieval will be more difficult. Tests of recall have long been a primary method used by experimental psychologists in the study of human memory processes.  Memory retrieval simply put is a process of accessing stored memories. When an individual is taking an exam, he or she needs to be able to retrieve learned information from his or her memory in order to answer the test questions. There are four basic ways in which information can be pulled from long-term memory   namely:

  1. Free recall: this type of memory retrieval   involves being able to access the information without being cued. Answering a question on a fill- in- the blank test is a good example of recall.
  2. Recollection: this type of memory retrieval involves reconstructing memory, often utilizing logical structures, partial memories narratives or clues. For example, writing an answer on an essay exam often involves remembering bits of information, and then restructuring the remaining information based on these partial memories.
  3. Recognition: this type of memory retrieval involves identifying information after experiencing it again. For example, taking a multiple- choice quiz requires that you recognize the correct answer out of a   group of available answers.
  4. Relearning: this type of memory retrieval involves relearning information that has been previously learned. This often makes it easier to remember and retrieve information in the future and can improve the strength of memories.        The term imagery refers to a wide variety of techniques, including simple visualization and direct suggestion using imagery, metaphor and storytelling, interpretation, drawing, and active imagination where elements of the unconscious are invited to appear as images that can communicate with the conscious mind, Sheehan (1971).         It is generally observed that the major problem in primary schools is the method of imparting knowledge. Lack of appropriate teaching aids has always led to the poor performance of   primary schools pupils, this is seen in their inability to recall or reproduce what they learnt in the time past as they take class test or school exams. A study carried out by Rausal (2011) revealed that the method employed in teaching in most primary schools is not effective to help pupils to recall information taught to them. Most of their studies are done without visual aids or appropriate teaching aids that stimulate, motivate, and activate learners within instructional process. This study will help to find out the effect of imagery on word recall.

Statement of the Problem

Aside imagery as one of the independent variable in this study, Gender entails the fact of being a male or a female. Afnan Aldali and Fatima Siddiqui (2012) conducted experiment to determine the effect of gender on memory recall and concluded that gender does affect memory recall. According to Michino,& Michino (2009),females perform better than males. They opined that the factor responsible for this gender differences is style. Females have ability to remember items, events etc, better than males. Furthermore, it was found that female structured their memories in a more integrated and less differentiated style, whereas, male structured their memories in a more differentiated and less integrated style. Nakash and Bordy (2007). Another research done by Robbins and Randal (1989) showed that females rated themselves higher than males on remembering conservation and other recent events. Gender plays a strong role in how people remember, a new Cornell study confirms this. (Wang, Hou & Wiprovnick, 2011). Research and many tales from real life report that women are typically better at remembering past events than men. Qi Wang, professor of human development in cornell’s college of Human Ecology conducted a study in which diverse group of 60 college undergraduates received three text messages over the course of a week that prompted them to immediately write down what had happened to them during the past 30 minutes. At the end of the week, they were asked to recall as much detail as possible about these events in a surprise memory test. Compared with men, the women in the study recorded more event details initially and then recalled more details more accurately about the remembered events a week later, even after controlling for the additional detail women originally encoded. And while the men and women in the study recorded similar event content initially, at recall, the women reported their experiences by focusing more on relationships and social interactions than men. These findings are provocative in showing that women and men see their worlds differently, likely due to different cognitive styles, and that gender ideologies come into play in memory reconstruction Wang added.

But in this study, i will concentrate on the free recall. Roediger, Nairne, Neath and Suprenant (1971) observed that one of the basic measures performance in free recall paradigm is simply the number of words recalled from a list, which varies with a number of factors, including the list length, the type of material studied, and any task used to process the words. When one examines the probability of recall by the position of the item in the list (its serial position), one item in the list finds that the initial and terminal items in the list are better remember than those in the middle also known as the primacy and recency items, respectively. Primacy effects generally come from the idea that greater attention is devoted to items that appear at the beginning of presentation list. Bonvillian (1983) presents a classic study of serial position effects in free recall.

Research Question:

  1. Will the pupils who were taught with imagery recall       better than those who were taught without imagery?
  2. Would gender differences have effect on recall?

Purpose of the Study 

Thus, the purpose of this study specifically include to investigate:

  1.  The effect of gender on recall.
  2. The effect of imagery on recall.
  3. This study focuses on the effect of imagery stimuli because of their practical relevance to education. It also seeks to know if there are significant differences in male and female on recall when these factors are examined together. This research will therefore investigate the effects on Nigeria population.

Significance of the Study

The findings of the study will be of a great benefit in many areas of teaching and learning especially for the pupils in primary schools.

  • It will help pupils to recall better what they were taught and enhance their academic performance.
  • The study will help teachers to develop a better method of teaching that provide cognitive and effective benefits to the learners.
  • The findings will contribute positively to the modification of school curriculum by the curriculum planners
  • It will bring about effective understanding among pupils and will faster strong relationship between the teachers and the pupils.
  • Finally the finding from the study will be of great help to stakeholders in education and curriculum development agencies in deciding strategies to improve schools.

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Project Topic: Effect of Imagery and Gender on Word Recall among Primary School Pupils

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