The Effect of Teachers' Memory-Relevant Language on Children's Strategy Use and Knowledge


  • This research was supported in part by grants from the National Science Foundation (BCS-0217206 and 0519153) to the third author, as well as a Predoctoral Fellowship provided by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (T32-HD07376) through the Center for Developmental Science, UNC-CH, to the first author. We are grateful to the participating families, after-school directors, and students for supporting this project. In addition, we wish to thank Maria Finnegan, Ann Kelly, and Adrienne Smith for professional assistance, and Allison Mugno, Deborah Zimmerman, Amy Hedrick, Kathryn Howlett, Hillary Langley, Sheena Berry, Ben Cox, Hannah Kirby, Elizabeth Martin, Zach Martin, Lauren Martin, Cherelle McKnight, Rachel Reyes, and Lauren Upton for their assistance with data collection and coding.


Building on longitudinal findings of linkages between aspects of teachers' language during instruction and children's use of mnemonic strategies, this investigation was designed to examine experimentally the impact of instruction on memory development. First and second graders (= 54, Mage = 7 years) were randomly assigned to a science unit that varied only in teachers' use of memory-relevant language. Pretest, posttest, and 1-month follow-up assessments revealed that although all participating children learned new information as a result of instruction, those exposed to memory rich teaching exhibited greater levels of strategic knowledge and engaged in more sophisticated strategy use in a memory task involving instructional content than did students exposed to low memory instruction. The findings provide support for a causal linkage between teachers' language and children's strategic efforts.