The Effects of Test Trial and Processing Level on Immediate and Delayed Retention

Sau Hou Chang


The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effects of test trial and processing level on immediate and delayed retention. A 2 × 2 × 2 mixed ANOVAs was used with two between-subject factors of test trial (single test, repeated test) and processing level (shallow, deep), and one within-subject factor of final recall (immediate, delayed). Seventy-six college students were randomly assigned first to the single test (studied the stimulus words three times and took one free-recall test) and the repeated test trials (studied the stimulus words once and took three consecutive free-recall tests), and then to the shallow processing level (asked whether each stimulus word was presented in capital letter or in small letter) and the deep processing level (whether each stimulus word belonged to a particular category) to study forty stimulus words. The immediate test was administered five minutes after the trials, whereas the delayed test was administered one week later. Results showed that single test trial recalled more words than repeated test trial in immediate final free-recall test, participants in deep processing performed better than those in shallow processing in both immediate and delayed retention. However, the dominance of single test trial and deep processing did not happen in delayed retention. Additional study trials did not further enhance the delayed retention of words encoded in deep processing, but did enhance the delayed retention of words encoded in shallow processing.


single test trial; repeated test trial; shallow processing level; deep processing level; immediate retention; delayed retention

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