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Effect of slot openness on word recall : three fundamental theorems

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  • A Factorial Design was employed to determine the effects of slot openness on recall for familiar items in discrete sentences as stimulus contexts. A slot was defined as a locale in a verbal context, in which the target item is embedded. Low-openness slots are locales into which only given items can fit, whereas high-openness slots are locales into which many possible alternatives can fit. Two factors were involved in the experimental design, namely, degree of slot openness and test type. The former was the key factor, which had two levels high and low. The latter was a means of manipulating the key factor, which had three levels (1) read-recall with less cues, (2) read-recall with more cues, and (3) cloze-recall. One hundred and twenty-six university students with Chinese as their first language were randomly assigned into six groups, with twenty-one in each. Eighty items were to be recalled. The raw scores of recall were transformed into a new scale of value by the natural log function for data analysis. The results of data analysis revealed two major findings. First, subjects who received low-openness slots not only reported greater ease, but also performed better, in recall for the target items than subjects who received high-openness slots. Second, at the .01 significance level, initial constituent letters of the target words were better recalled than the whole target words, however, regardless of the test types, there was no significant difference when the items-to-be-recalled were the initial constituent letters of the target words. These empirical findings justified the validation of three fundamental theorems, according to which, (a) the recallability of a verbal item is an inverse function of the degree of openness of the slot in which the target item is located, (b) the degree of slot openness is, in turn, a function of the number of possible alternatives that can fit into the slot, and (c) the number of possible alternatives for a slot is determined by the verbal context in which the slot is involved.
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