Examining Competing Hypotheses for the Effects of Diagrams on Recall for Text

Francesca R. Ortegren, Michael Serra, Benjamin D. England

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Supplementing text-based learning materials with diagrams typically increases students’ free-recall and cued-recall of the presented information. In the present experiments, we examined competing hypotheses for why this occurs. More specifically, although diagrams are visual, they also serve to repeat information from the text they accompany. Both visual presentation and repetition are known to aid students’ recall of information. To examine to what extent diagrams aid recall because they are visual or repetitive (or both), we had college students in two experiments (n = 320) read a science text about how lightning storms develop before completing free-recall and cued-recall tests over the presented information. Between groups, we manipulated the format and repetition of target pieces of information in the study materials using a 2 (visual presentation of target information: diagrams present vs. diagrams absent) x 2 (repetition of target information: present vs. absent) between-partic
Original languageEnglish
JournalMemory & Cognition
StatePublished - Jan 2015


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