Britney Le

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Metacognitions are the processes associated with how well we learn and monitor our study behavior. This can be assessed with judgments of learning (JOLs) during encoding of cue-target word pairs (e.g., dog – bowl), which are predictions on how confident we are that we will remember the target (e.g., bowl) when later presented with the cue (e.g., dog) at retrieval. The easily learned easily remembered (ELER) heuristic states that the easier it is to learn something, the easier it is to be remembered later. However, recent studies using eye tracking show that more effortful encoding, as indexed by larger pupil sizes, is associated with better memory. To arbitrate between these two alternatives, participants studied four separate randomized lists of 24 words consisting of 12 related (e.g., dog – bowl) and 12 unrelated (e.g., table – shoe) cue-target pairs. Pupil size was measured during the 5-second encoding period and JOLs were taken after learning each word pair. Following study of each list, participants were given a 1-minute distractor task followed by a cued recall task in which participants tried to recall each target when presented with the cue. It was found that JOLs, recall accuracy, and task-evoked pupillary response (TEPR) were all greater with the related word pairs compared to the unrelated word pairs, arguing against the ELER heuristic. These results have important implications for education, especially for increasing long-term memory.

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