University of New Hampshire
Mentor: Dr. Michelle Leichtman, Department of Psychology
Evaluating Episodic Memory in Children Using a Science-Learning Event
Research in developmental psychology has shown that parents’ style of talking about past events in daily conversations helps shape children’s recall. Mothers who use “high-elaborative” styles of speaking often have children who are able to provide more details and factual information about past events in response to free recall and direct inquiries. The present study explores what kindergarteners remember about a science-learning event after a one-week delay, how parents—who were not present during the event and have no knowledge of event details--speak with their children about this event, and how parents’ style of speaking influences children’s memories. We hypothesize that 1) children will retain significant information about the event, and 2) children whose parents display a higher-elaborative style of speaking about the event shortly after it occurs will demonstrate better memory for event details and concepts one week later. Results will be analyzed as quantitative data using Analysis of Variance and regression. The study will extend previous work with similar paradigms to a more socio-economically diverse sample. The results will address whether lower- to middle-income parents who may not have extensive science education or knowledge of a particular lesson can improve their children’s memories of a science lesson in school. This research is valuable to psychologists and educators because it examines how much and what kinds of information about science children can retain. It also provides insight into how routine conversations with parents can support children’s memories and learning.