4 Methods Used in the Research of Verbal Learning
He found that items in the end of the list were recalled better (Recency effect) and those at the beginning of the list next (Primacy effect). The items in the middle of the list were recalled the least. These results were independent of list size used. However, variation in terms of serial position is dependent upon the nature of the material and the nature of the practice (rehearsal).
(2) Serial Learning:
The earliest experiments on verbal learning were experiments on serial learning. Ebbinghaus used what has come to be known as the method of complete presentation. He spread the complete set of materials out before himself and thereafter began to learn them by reading each word once at the stroke of a metronome.
He tried to associate it with the next item so that, when given any simple item, he would anticipate the next one. Thus, despite the method of complete representation he learned by serial anticipation.
Serial anticipation produces some complicated and interesting effects in learning. It reflects upon the nature of the processes people go through when they try to associate verbal items together.
In contemporary experiments the method of complete representation is seldom used instead the subject sees one word at a time. When the subject sees one particular word exposed, he is to try to guess or anticipate what the next one will be. Thus, each item serves as a stimulus for the recall of the next.
(3) Paired-Associate Learning:
This is the most common method of presentation used in the laboratory. In this method, the subject is asked to learn that when he sees or hears one item he is to respond with another one that is associated with it. This is called the anticipation method in paired associate learning.
An alternate method is the study-test or recall method. In this procedure, each trial consists of two parts. In the first part the pairs are presented and the subject responds by pronouncing or spelling them. In the second part the stimuli are presented alone one by one, usually in a new order, and the subject is asked to recall the responses for each one.
Three generalized conclusions can be drawn irrespective of diversities of procedure. Firstly pairs with an average meaningfulness or association value are learnt rapidly than those pairs with lower meaningfulness or association value. Secondly, learning is a positive function of stimulus meaningfulness or association value, being more rapid for higher values of these measures
(4) Verbal Discrimination Learning:
In this type of procedure, a series of verbal items is presented, usually visually, and the subjects are asked to learn which member of the pair is “correct”, i.e. the one arbitrarily selected by the experimenter as the right one. There is little evidence to suggest regarding the relation between meaningfulness association value and verbal discrimination learning.