The role of frame-formation on the comprehension and retention of a story

Syunichi Maruno, Kazuko Takagi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


According to Bartlett's hypothesis, remembering prose is a constructive process, in which meaningful material is stored in memory in schematic form, and recall is achieved by a process of reconstruction. The most recent research on constructive memory has focused on the effect of comprehension processes. However, there was little evidence to demonstrate that some advance organizers reflecting “story structure” or “connections between episodes in story” actually facilitated the comprehension and retention of prose passage or story. In the present study, we attempted to manipulate presentation or nonpresentation of an advance organizer and to assess its importance for an understanding of story retention. The subjects were 42 kindergarten children (mean CA: 6-2) and 42 third-grade children (mean CA: 9-3). The stimulus story was 33 long sentences containing seven episodes. The Ss were randomly assigned to one of three conditions containing two experimental (ordered and at random) and one controlled. In the ordered condition, 7 line-drawings expressing 7 episodes were placed in front of Ss in the order they occupied in the story, and the Ss in the random condition received the same set of stimuli in random order. The experiment consisted of three parts:(a) a frame-formation session in which Ss were given either in order or in random ordor 7 line-drawings as an advance organizer,(b) an immediate test session containing comprehension test and free recalls of episodes, and (c) a delay test (3 days later) employing only free recalls. The story was told following a frame-formation session. The main results were as follows: (1) Although the scores on development, ending and cause for kindergarten children were very similar to those of third-grade children, the latter understood the part of setting more than the former (see, FIG. 1). These were interpreted to suggest that even 6 year-old children were sensitive to the structures of stories and have schemata organizing retrieval in a fashion similar to the elder children. (2) The main effect of serial position was significant, indicating that the mean percentage of correct episodes at primacy and recency positions was higher than that of serial position 2-4. Moreover, the performance at primacy and recency positions (respectively., 97;. 95) in immediate recall was very similar to the (respectively., 95;. 93) delay recall (see FIG. 2). These were interpreted to show that when prose passage was stored in schematic form and recall was achieved by a process of reconstruction, the initial and end episodes were used as the point of departure. (3) Third-grade children recalled the order of episodes more than kindergarten children (see TABLE4). (4) On analysis of retention of the order, the interaction between Conditions and Immediate-Delay tests was significant at 10% level, indicating that the performance on the ordered condition was superior to both random order and control conditions in immediate test, but the performance on the three conditions in delay test was not different from each other (see FIG. 4). These results were interpreted to show that an advance organizer with logical sequences reflecting “story structure” or “connections between episodes in story” facilitated the comprehension and remembering of ordered relation in sequences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-26
Number of pages9
JournalJapanese Journal of Educational Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1979
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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