Free recall by deaf and hearing children: Semantic clustering and recall in trained and untrained groups

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Free recall tasks with semantically categorizable stimuli were given to 60 deaf and 60 hearing children, divided equally among Grades 3, 5, and 7 (ages 9, 11, and 13 years, respectively). Half the children were trained to use semantic categorization as a memory aid after the first study-test trial. All subjects were told category labels and sizes on the third recall trial. As hypothesized, older children showed more spontaneous semantic clustering and higher recall scores than younger children. Training increased clustering in all groups, while the provision of category information at retrieval increased clustering regardless of training condition. Contrary to expectations, deaf children used semantic clustering as much as hearing children. Deaf children's recall scores, however, were significantly lower than hearing children's. The specific contrasts observed between deaf and hearing children's performance suggest that deaf children's recall deficiencies probably reflect either inadequate knowledge of category membership or inflexibility in reclassifying individual items, rather than a general inability to recognize and use the categorical nature of a list as a mnemonic aid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-119
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of experimental child psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1979

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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