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On the Development of Forgetting

Charles J. Brainerd, Johannes Kingma and Mark L. Howe
Child Development
Vol. 56, No. 5 (Oct., 1985), pp. 1103-1119
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1130226
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1130226
Page Count: 17
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On the Development of Forgetting
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Abstract

3 conceptual issues are discussed that make the data of previous developmental studies of forgetting difficult to interpret, namely, stages-of-learning confounds, failure to separate forgetting per se from various performance factors that operate on retention tests, and failure to disentangle the relative contributions of storage-based forgetting and retrieval-based forgetting to retention test performance. A paradigm and model are presented that deal with these problems. Application of the model to the data of 4 experiments, 3 with elementary schoolers and 1 with adolescents, produced these major findings. (a) Contrary to previous studies, there were clear developmental trends in long-term retention that usually favored older children over younger children. (b) There were developmental trends in forgetting processes per se, again usually favoring older children, but these effects were confined to retrieval forgetting rather than storage forgetting. (c) There were developmental trends in the ability to relearn retrieval algorithms during long-term retention tests, with some types of relearning favoring older children and other types of relearning favoring younger children. (d) There were some important asymmetries between children's performance during acquisition of a list and their performance on long-term retention tests. This suggests that forgetting and acquisition are governed by quite different laws and hence require different theoretical assumptions.

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