The researchers hypothesized that the participants would be less likely to use the operand retrieval strategy in solving difficult problems than with simple problems. It is easier to use the operand retrieval strategy with simple problems because solving them requires no computation. The opposite holds true for difficult multiplication problems. Use of the operand retrieval strategy is expected to be associated with a greater generation effect.
The second experiment in the study examined whether an increased generation effect was possible due to better memory for the operands involved in the problem, what is known as the operand memory hypothesis. The hypothesis for this experiment, which took into consideration the principles of procedural account, was that the generation effect observed for difficult and simple problems should be similar when the operands are recalled, but should be different when recall of answers is required.
The final experiment in the study, experiment 3, investigated whether encoding was possibly involved in the generation effect. The researchers wanted to examine if, contrary to the proposed hypotheses of experiments 1 and 2, the greater generation effect for simple problems is possibly due to greater ease in encoding of the answers. They also sought to explore whether the greater observed generation effect among simple problems was in fact due to greater recognition of the actual answers rather than any reinstatement of cognitive operations.
The results of the first experiment of the study showed that the generation effect for the answers to simple multiplication problems is stronger than for difficult problems. This finding is consistent with the hypothesis proposed at the outset of the study. Also, the presentation of simple problems was also associated with fewer intrusion errors and the engagement of the operand retrieval strategy. The second experiment replicated the results of the first experiment, but when participants were required to require operands rather than answers from the study phase, the generation effect was equal for simple and difficult problems. The final experiment of the study served to refute any possibility that the findings were a result of a confound originating from differences among response terms.
An explanation of these findings in regards to procedural account, as described by McNamara & Healy (2000), is there is an enhancement of retention when participants engage in mental procedures at study that link the target item to memory in storage. Retention is also enhanced when the test causes participants to have to reinstate the same mental procedures that were used in the study phase. Furthermore, the generation effect occurs due to the fact that generating answers promotes the use of mental procedures during encoding more than reading, and these procedures are reinstated at the test phase of the study. In addition the operand retrieval strategy promotes the generation effect, and since participants are less likely to use the operand retrieval strategy with difficult problems, the generation effect is seen more with simple problems. The reason why the generation effect occurs is that generating answers is superior to simply reading because it supports and strengthens three different sources of information, including information from the item, from the stimulus-response relationship, and from the whole list (McNamara & Healy, 2000). Overall, McNamara & Healy (2000) predicted that in most situations, a generation effect is going to occur for episodic memory tasks that require familiar mental procedures that can be reinstated when tested. Furthermore, the generation effect will also happen for skill acquisition and knowledge tasks in which participants are required to develop new cognitive operations.
In sum, the findings of the study conducted by McNamara & Healy (2000) have widespread implication for learning, education, and memory. These findings could be utilized by teachers and administrators to develop programs and curricula that facilitate the retrieval process of pertinent information. For instance, providing students with more activity-related lessons in which cognitive operations need to be employed in order to receive necessary information, and then later calling upon these same cognitive operations at test, could have beneficial effects on their learning processes. Also, clinicians may find that the principles involved in the generation effect may indicate possible treatment directions for individuals with memory or learning deficiencies.
McNamara, D., Healy, a. "A procedural explanation of the…