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Introduction: The Serial Position Effect relates to real life issues such as remembering grocery lists, homework and the words in a song. When trying to memorize these lists or words, it is often difficult to remember the middle section of the list. This illustrates the Serial Position Effect, one in which the beginning or primacy and the ending or recency sections of a list are remembered best, demonstrated by a study performed by Glanzer and Cunitz in 1966 (Travis and Wade 327). The Serial Position Effect deals with how the brain processes and coverts sensory information into short term memory. The initial sensory stages in which the information is gathered can be manipulated to improve or decrease the chance of recall. This topic is meaningful and worthy of study because it has implications in the use and improvement of short term memory. Research on the Serial Position Effect has found that the effect is very strong in varying situations and that the recency and the primacy were key factors to this (Smith). Other studies have found that the interruption during or near the end of the experiment can disrupt the effectiveness of the recency effect. The understanding of how the Serial Position Effect can be interrupted or refuted can be seen in this experiment. In this experiment the middle terms of a list are repeated in order to disrupt the U-shape of the Serial Position Effect and possibly make it more likely that the middle terms in a list will be remembered. The results of this experiment might have implications for students trying to remember information for tests, businesses that want better employee organization an effective communication and retention of orders. This experiment was conducted by Lauren Bloxham, Eric Hsiao and Shea Barnett in 2009. Method: Design: The method used in this investigation was the experimental method of investigation. This method was chosen because the ease of control which many variables can be controlled, with one variable manipulated at the experiment designer’s will. The participants in this investigation were shown a complete list of 18 words to memorize. The 18 words consisted of commonly used words in everyday school life and afterschool activities, thus ensuring the participants’ understanding of the words. The experiment consisted of two testing groups. The independent variable, tested in the experimental group, was the number of times which the middle six words appeared. The dependent variable was the effect which the repetition of words had upon one’s memory recall of the words. To prevent participants in the experimental group from intentionally memorizing the middle six words, participants in this group were not informed of what exactly was being tested in the experiment. Variables which could have affected the outcome of the experiment were outside distractions and participants writing down or verbally repeating words. These potential disruptions were controlled through the use of a classroom testing setting in quiet section of the school during Lunchtime. Participants under 18 years of age were given a parental consent form agreeing to their participation in the experiment, participants 18 years or older completed their own consent forms. No participants were harmed during this experiment.

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Participants: The participants in this study were selected through an opportunity sample because of schedule conflicts and for the convenience of both participants and experimenters. Participants were asked to join in the experiment a week in advance and were told to have their parents fill out permission forms if they were under the age of 18. The participants were also given the incentive of free food and snacks if they joined the experiment. The experimental conditions and the control conditions were the same in almost every respect; the room was the same, the instructor was the same, the time given to do every step of the experiment was timed so as to ensure uniformity in each condition. There were 11 participants per condition of which 9 were male and 13 were female. Most of the participants were between the ages of 14 and 18 and were native English speakers. Apparatus/Materials: The materials used were fairly basic in nature though many required the use of technology such as powerpoint programs, smartboards and computers. The layout of the equipment allowed for the best and most unobstructed view of the smartboard so that the experiment could be carried out as smoothly as possible without many distractions. The materials were used to meet the needs of the experiment by creating a comfortable non-distracting environment in which the participant could participate in the experiment effectively and record their results with the most ease. Procedure: 1. Participants asked ahead of time to fill out a parent permission form and to bring form to the experiment 2. On the day of the experiment, participants divided evenly into a control group and an experimental group 3. One group stays outside and is asked to be quiet while the other group is told to sit inside the classroom at individual desks that are evenly spaced facing the Smart Board. 4. Participants are given a pencil and a small slip of paper on which to write and are told the instructions of the experiment. 5. The powerpoint is played and all people in and outside of the classroom are quiet so as not to disturb the participants’ concentration. 6. After the powerpoint ends, participants are allowed to immediately begin writing the words they remember for 2-3 minutes. 7. Afterwards questions regarding the conduct of the experiment are asked and then the concluding statement is read. 8. Participants are given snacks and the other group is invited in to do steps 3 through 8.

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The participants in this experiment were tested in groups but were not asked to talk with each other. The data was written down by the participants themselves and handed in for analysis and scoring. The setting for this experiment was in a standard classroom with a smartboard, a computer and individual desks on November 2, 2009 during the school lunch break. In each group, the instructions were the same and were said by the same experimenter. Ethical considerations such as race, age and gender were dealt with by picking both males and females from different backgrounds and ages and not allowing the instructions or the procedure to discriminate significantly against differences in the participant pool. Please see Appendix B for full instructions. The results of this experiment were recorded by the participants individually and collaborated into charts in Appendix C and Appendix D.

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Results: Analysis of Results The data presented and the results collected were nominal and ordinal in nature since it had to do with words and also because it was presented in a specific order. Graph 1: Comparison of Average Words Remembered in Middle Section between Control and Experimental Groups

Graph 2: Number of Participants Who Recalled Words for Controlled and Experimental Groups

Contro Experimen

Words in Order as in List

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Discussion The data in the results section indicates that the average words remembered was higher in the experimental group than in the control group (Graph 1) implying that the doubling of words in the middle section of the list was affective in increasing a person’s memory of the middle section of list of words. Therefore the data supported the experiment and the hypothesis since doubling the words in the middle section actually increases participants’ memory of those words. The implications of this finding go against the Serial Position Effect and so possibly demonstrate an instance in which it might not apply. Graph 2 further supports this conclusion since, although there is a clear indication that participants remembered the first and last words in a list best, the experimental group actually remembered more than the control group when tested on the middle section of words. The independent variable was probably fairly responsible in the results of this experiment since there was a deviation from the findings in the control group but also a close correlation to the control group’s results in other instances. Weaknesses that may have confounded the results of this experiment include the group setting in which participants were experimented on, loud disruptive noises from outside that were unavoidably introduced into the experiment setting. Unusual results include the creation of new words by the participants that might have related to other words but were not in fact on the list. The results of this experiment should not be thought of as a representation of the general public or even the school body since this was a small slice of the actual population and did not represent non-native speakers of English or many of the other nationalities present at this school. In conclusion, this experiment finds that there are ways in which the Serial Position Affect does not apply such as the repetition of words in the middle of a list. The experiment also raises the question as to the validity of the Serial Position Affect and how other methods could be used to refute it.

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References: “Experiment Description: Free Recall and the Serial Position.” Athabasca University. 27 June 2005. 30 Nov. 2009. <http://psych.athabasca.ca/html/Psych355/Exp/recall.shtml?so=true Smith, Michelle Lynn. “The Forgotten Child of Memory.” The Serial Position Effect. Middle Tennessee State University. n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2009. <http://www.mtsu.edu/~sschmidt/Cognitive/sample_report.htm> Tarvis, Carol and Carole Wade. (2001). Memory, 8, 327-8, in Psychology in Perspective. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 2001. Print.

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Appendix A Student Notification Form You have been selected to participate in and IB SL Psychology experiment conducted on November 2, 2009 during lunch (10.20 am). Please be there promptly. This experiment is designed to test memory and your results will be available to you (and only you). If you have any questions email either Shea (sheasiam@gmail.com), Lauren (i_am_lauren1992@hotmail.com) or Eric (erichsiao92@hotmail.com). Please have the parent consent form signed by your parents and bring it with you on the day of the experiment. You will not be able to participate if you don’t have the signed form with you. Also, if you can participate in the experiment, please email either one of us to let us know. Thank you. Snacks will be available at the end of the experiment!

Parent Consent Form I agree that my child is willing to participate in an experiment conducted by Shea Barnett, Eric Hsiao and Lauren Bloxham approved by the IB Psychology teacher Mr. Howe which will account for 20% of the IB grade. I understand that my child will be asked to memorize a list of words and be asked to recall these words. I understand that any information gathered from my child’s participation will remain confidential and that my child will have the right to withdraw from this experiment at any time. I understand that my child will be debriefed to the purpose of this experiment upon its completion and that my results will be made available to me. Student Name: __________________________________________________ Parent Signature: ___________________________________________________

Contact Information: Shea Barnett: sheasiam@gmail.com Lauren Bloxham: i_am_lauren1992@hotmail.com Eric Hsiao: erichsiao92@hotmail.com

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Appendix B: Preliminary Instructions Thank you for coming. You will be shown a series of slides each with a word typed on it. You will have 3 seconds per slide to look at each word. Please try and memorize the list as best you can. Please do not speak with or distract each other while the powerpoint is playing. After the powerpoint ends please write as many words as you can remember from the powerpoint on your paper in whatever order they come to you. We will also ask you a few post-experimental questions after you’re done. After the experiment we will tell you the purpose of this experiment. Post-experimental Questions Was it intimidating to be tested on memory in a group setting? Could you see the words clearly? Was there anything hat distracted you during the experiment? Debriefing Notes Thank you for participating in our experiment. The purpose of this experiment was to test the Serial Position Effect, a phenomenon in which a person has the tendency to recall the first and the last words in a list. In this experiment, we attempted to find a situation in which the Serial Position Effect would not work. We did this by repeating the words in the middle section of the list. Please do not reveal any of this to other participants you may know. The final results will be made available to you should you request them at the completion of this project. Thank you, once again for coming.

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Appendix C: Key: Control Group Primary Section Middle Section
Participa nts 1 2 3 4 5

Recent Section Made up
6 7 8 9 10 11

Key:
Pencil Book Eraser Room Chair Table Pencil Pen Eraser Pencil Book Pen Pencil Book Pencil Binder Book Pencil Eraser Pen Pencil Book Eraser Pen Eraser Calculat or Ruler Book Library Calculat or Backpac k Binder Table Pencil Chair

Primary Section Middle Section
Eraser

Recent Section Made up

Pen

Sports

Marker

Eraser

Calculat or Library

Library

Calculato r Library

Binder

Room

Library

Cafeteri a Binder

Table

Cafeteri a Calculat or Comput er Ruler

Comput er Chair

Backpac k Cafeteri a Pen

Library

Sports

Calculat or Pen

Chair

Paper

Cafeteria

Backpac k Table

Pen

Table

Backpac k Ruler

Comput er Paper

Marker

Table

Ruler

Eraser

Binder

Paper

Binder

Room

Table

Binder

Cafeteri a Chair

Paper

Ruler

Calculat or

Cafeteri a Sports

Sports

Compute r Homewor k Table

Library

Room

Marker

Binder

Cafeteri a

School

Comput er Chair

Comput er

Homewor k Book

Comput er Cafeteri a

Book

Chair

Bag

Backpack

Paper

Book

Binder Calculat or

Book Chair

Paper Marker

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Appendix D: Experimental Group

Participa nts

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

Marker Chair Room Sports

Pencil Book Eraser Library

Book Pen Pencil Calculato r Library

Library Cafeteria Paper Pen

Pencil Book Eraser Pen

Pencil Book Eraser Pen

Pencil Book Eraser Pen

Ruler Pen Pencil Paper

Pencil Book Eraser Pen

Pencil Eraser Pen Library

Library Pen Pencil Eraser

Cafeteria

Ruler

Pencil

Library

Library

Calculato r Ruler

Backpack

Ruler

Chair

Ruler

Ruler

Cafeteria

Marker

Eraser

Compute r Backpack

Calculat or Ruler

Compute r Table

Paper

Calculato r Cafeteria

Paper

Calculato r Pen

Pen

Chair

Marker

Library

Table

Binder

Homewor k Paper

Backpack

Table

Table

Binder

Room

Chair

Sports

Ruler

Table

Pencil

Binder

Chair

Homewor k Sports

Paper

Homewor k Table

Cafeteria

Cafeteria

Backpack

Room

Paper

Backpack

Sports

Book

Room

Binder

Compute r Marker

Binder Homewor k

Cafeteria Eraser

Binder School

Cafeteria

Table Chair

Marker Sports

Library Book

Sports

Backpac k Sports Cafeteri a Marker

Cafeteria

Marker

Ruler

Backpack Chair

Sports Calculato r Eraser

Compute r Binder Teacher

Room Homewor k

Paper

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