Categorical clustering

Categories: CatHumanMemory

Theories which link recall directly to the way in which the information is encoded are very well supported and accepted among cognitive theorists; however, there is a lack of research on specific tricks to encoding which may aid in recall efficiency (Roy, 1967). The theories on this are widely accepted but, in fact, are poorly supported due to their common sense value. There is a need for more research about the ways in which environment directly effects efficiency of recall.

Considering all of the research done on the correlation between encoding methods and recall, it can be seen that recall is directly affected by the modality and physical characteristics of encoding (Squire, 1987).

Mnemonic devices are techniques to improve retention and most involve some combination of vivid visual imagery, organization of information into meaningful units, and hierarchies, and association with well-learned information (Winn, 2001).

Many different memorization techniques have been designed to accommodate the unique way that every brain encodes the most effectively. Mnemonic devices have been devised to help the naturally most effective way for each individual's brain to encode information, but are geared towards visual learners.

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Kinetic and Auditory Learners need to modify what is being encoded in order for it to be effectively recalled later (Expanding, 1996). These specific techniques add meaning to an otherwise meaningless list of items (Sternberg, 1999). Common mnemonic devices include categorical clustering, interactive images, pegword systems, method of loci, acronyms, acrostics, and keyword systems.

Henry Roediger has studied the comparative effectiveness of these mnemonic strategies and found that it was influenced by the kind of task required at the time of retrieval.

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He went on to suggest that when choosing a method for encoding, one should keep in mind the purpose of recalling the information (Sternberg, 1999).. Students are often asked to memorize large amounts of information at one time. There is a very small amount of research on the effectiveness of different mnemonic devices specifically effective for the purpose of recalling scholastic information. One method which has been theorized to fit this type of purpose of recall is categorical clustering.

It has already been theorized by Weston Bousfield that the human brain automatically separates information into categories. In 1953 he tested this theory by showing that if sets of test words can be divided into categories, participants will automatically cluster their recall output by these categories. Aiding the natural inclination to categorize with mnemonic devices could greatly help memorization. Theories about this are very poorly supported. Further investigation of this specific mnemonic device is important in investigating how it affects the recall of lists of words. Knowing this would be relevant in scholastic and other environments in which this device could be especially helpful.

Hypothesis IB Juniors given a list of 18 words with a list of 3 category titles will recall the items on the list more accurately than those given the list without the category titles Null Hypothesis There is no difference in recall between IB Juniors given a list with category titles and those given the list without the titles. Methods: Design Design The design that will be used for this experiment is independent samples, because it meets the needs of the experiment and also minimizes error and is effective in controlling specific internal validity concerns. This specific design controls for testing and progressive errors, most order effects, maturation, and mortality.

This design, however, does not control for history. The only unwanted subject variables in this experiment would be learning or memory deficit disorders. Drastic problems that keep a student from being able to memorize or learn new things effectively would negatively affect the experiment and make the results more difficult to generalize. To control for this, as a sort of "pre-screening", only juniors enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program will be used as volunteers. It can be ensured that any student which has made it that far within that rigorous an academic program has no drastic disorders which effect his or her memory or ability to learn and retain information.

This also controls for selection in that all IB Juniors are statistically equivalent. Diffusion of treatment in this experiment could be a problem if the subjects share words or information from the lists while trying to recall them. This could largely alter the results of the experiment and therefore the researchers will be preventing subject interaction and supervising them as they are recalling remembered words. All subjects will be given the exact same list of words, only 1/2 will be given simple category titles. The words will still be in the same order and place on the page to control for instrumentation errors.


Because subjects will be tested in front of a teacher, it will be made fully aware that they will be ethically treated and that in no way will this experiment alter their status in that classroom. The researchers will establish a clear and fair agreement with the research participants prior to their participation. This agreement will clarify the aim of the study, that it is completely optional, and ensure that the results will be shared with the participants after all data is collected and analyzed.

The researchers will make the subjects fully aware that the study is not only optional, but that the subject can decline to participate or withdraw from the research at any time without any repercussions whatsoever. All necessary aspects of the research will be described and the volunteers will give their informed consent prior to participation. Results will remain confidential and anonymous, but the final purpose of the study shall be revealed in a follow up session. Since all of the participants are under 18, the principal and the party who is legally responsible for the students while they are on campus (Mrs. Benware) will be made aware of the aim of the study and give her consent to let any volunteers participate in the study.

III. Methods: Participants

The entire population of IB Juniors may be used in the experiment; however, the statistical concepts of sampling make it unnecessary. The sample will consist of IB Juniors from Mrs. Jamison's 3rd and 6th period classes, and from various other teachers which give informed consent for the researchers to talk to their classrooms about the experiment and offer the opportunity for the students to volunteer. The participants will be a representative group of the entire population of IB juniors.

Students which are taking psychology don't create any errors in population validity, as they haven't participated in enough training in psychology for their results to be altered in any way because of it. To obtain a random sample from the IB Junior class, students from random classrooms will be asked to volunteer. A random sample of 30 IB Juniors is used in the experiment. They are all 16-17 years of age and have similar academic backgrounds and capabilities, as they are all in the International Baccalaureate program.

Updated: Jun 05, 2020
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Categorical clustering. (2017, Sep 26). Retrieved from

Categorical clustering essay
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