Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Third- and sixth-graders and adults participated in an experiment based upon Hunt and Einstein's (1981) theory which relates study activities or processing task to subsequent memory performance. Participants performed a processing task designed to emphasize either relational or item-specific information. In addition, the information about the words available in each subject's knowledge base was measured in two ways: relational information was assessed with a typicality rating task and item-specific information was assessed with an attribute listing task. The experiment consisted of three phases. In the first phase subjects performed one of two processing tasks on a list containing typical, atypical and unfamiliar exemplers of a semantic category. One group of subjects sorted the words into categories (the relational task) the other group rated the words for pleasantness (the item-specific task). In the second phase, subjects' memory for the words was tested on a free recall test. In the third phase the knowledge base assessment tasks were performed. The knowledge base measures indicated: the relative amount of relational versus item-specific information available for typical, atypical and unfamiliar words is different for each type of word and that amount of relational and item-specific information in the knowledge base changes with age. As predicted by the theory, recall was influenced by the interaction of word type with processing task. Finally, parallels between free recall results and the knowledge base measures indicated that knowledge base development interacts with the processing task to influence what is recalled by subjects at the three age levels.