Faculty Research at Morehead State University


Transfer of Elaborative Strategies in College Students

Document Type


Publication Date



The use of elaboration as a memory strategy has been researched for decades and has been shown to be effective for preschool through adult ages (Pressley, 1982). However, the literature examining elaborative strategy use among students in college is lacking. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the transfer of elaborative strategy use in a sample of college undergraduate students. This study employed two separate samples with slightly different data collection strategies over a period of two years. Both samples came from undergraduate students enrolled across multiple sections of an educational psychology course required for entry into the undergraduate teacher education program at a regional state university in the Mid-South region of the United States. Sample one consisted on 149 students in either Professor A or B’s courses that were administered five non-comprehensive multiple-choice exams and sample two consisted of 111 students with the same professors that were administered four noncomprehensive, multiple-choice exams with a Study Habits Survey administered before each exam (see appendix). Professor A utilized songs and chants for instruction leading to the first exam while Professor B employed traditional lecture methods. Results from the first sample indicated student performance on all five exams was higher in Professor A’s class as compared to Professor B’s class, with the last two being statistically significant. Sample two, however, did not yield similar findings, although Professor A’s students did perform better on the exam for which the Professor utilized elaborative strategies for students during instruction. Generally, students who reported using elaborative strategies to remember content material consistently outscored students who did not report using those strategies; however, it seemed that students failed to initiate these memory strategies on their own. Quasi-experimental design for further study, along 3 with measures of student metamemory as suggested by Borkowski, Peck, Reid, and Kurtz (1983) would enhance the further study of this topic. From this information, it would seem that professors should not only provide examples of elaborative memory strategies during instruction, but also explain to students why such strategies work and encourage independent use by students as a study tool.