In paired associate learning experiments also it was found that pairs with an average meaningfulness are learnt more rapidly than those with lower meaningfulness values. Noble found that as the meaningfulness of items increases lesser time is required for learning. Underwood observed that higher the meaningfulness, more rapid is the learning.
Learning and retention is also influenced by the frequency with which particular words are encountered. Hall found that the subjects recalled those items better which they frequently heard or saw.
Underwood and Schulz found that the frequency with which words have been experienced determines their availability as responses in new connections.
Murdock found that the probability of recall of individual items is a function of their position in the list when free recall is used. Along with other things he found that items at the end of the list are recalled better as compaired to the one’s in the middle of the list. This is due to the recency effect. Another aspect of recency is if the time interval between presentation and testing is increased there will be a decline in recall. Less the time interval better the recall, keeping aside other aspects. Yet another aspect of recency pertains to the ‘selector mechanism’. This refers to the tendency of not making error by responding with an item that is not present in the list.
This mechanism is the outcome of recency, so it is suggested. The ‘selector mechanism’ provides a set to respond from a restricted pool of items. This set disappears as the length of time interval between presentation and recall is increased.
There is a close relationship between similarity and generalization. During the course of learning when the stimulus is attached to a response and thereby learnt in that manner we at the same time develop a tendency to make the same response to similar stimuli. However, if the stimulus items are similar to each other the learning task gets difficult because of inter-pair generalization. Hull found that similarity between S-R hinders the association between them rather than the learning of discrete responses.
(5) Imagery and concreteness:
The role of imagery in learning is an important one. When one learns verbal material one may do so by forming images of it. The image arousing capacity of the verbal material is important.
Concrete words are those which generate images easily. Abstract words, on the other hand do not easily or not at all generate images. Thus, it is easier to learn words which are concrete. Epstein, Rock and Zuckerman found that in learning the concreteness of the stimulus is more important than that of the response term.
Yuille and Madigan also highlighted the role of concrete stimuli in facilitating verbal learning.
Where there is a will there is a way. This holds true for verbal learning as well. Motivation plays a significantly important role in verbal learning. Deese and Hube have shown that motivation influences the amount of casual learning. D ‘Amato has highlighted the positive motivational role played by instructions given to the subject before a verbal learning task. In his subjects the amount of learning increased as a result of instructions given before the learning task.
These instructions served as an incentive and the subject was thereby motivated to do better. However, not all studies have born positive results on the role played by motivation in verbal learning. Harley and Weiner found that verbal learning is least influenced by the magnitude of reinforcement.