Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Carla M. Strickland-Hughes

First Committee Member

Jessica Grady

Second Committee Member

Scott Jensen


Strategy instruction can improve memory performance, but some training programs are more effective than others. Some scholars propose that a key element to boosting the benefits from training programs is enhancing or emphasizing self-regulatory factors, such as knowledge about memory, beliefs about ability, or motivational factors. Research supporting this claim evidence adds that programs that enhance trainees’ confidence in their abilities improve memory performance and that multifactorial programs are more effective than strategy-training-only programs. Setting performance goals and receiving feedback are two self-regulatory factors known to relate to memory performance that may sometimes be included in some training programs. However, previous research has not directly compared the effectiveness of strategy instruction with and without goal-setting and performance feedback elements. This was the purpose of the present research: We compared strategy instruction with goal-setting and positively-framed feedback across three assessments of memory performance, strategy use, and task commitment. Participants were 48 university students who were randomly assigned to two conditions: All participants watched a brief memory strategy video, but participants in the Strat+GFB condition set goals for their memory performance and received positively-framed objective performance feedback and participants in the StratOnly condition did not. Research assistants conducted the experimental procedures individually with participants in 1-hour-long Zoom video calls. Primary outcome measures (memory performance, strategy use, and task commitment) were assessed three times, once before and twice after strategy instruction, with or without goal-setting and feedback between each test, depending on condition assignment. Shopping list recall tests were used to assess memory performance, and the number of to-be-recalled stimuli increased at each testing occasion as 15 additional items were added at each trial. Participants recalled more items, but a smaller percentage of the items, over time, and this pattern was not different for the experimental conditions. Additionally, number of strategies used, as self-reported on a retrospective checklist, increased from before to after strategy instruction. Importantly, the Strat+GFB condition maintained levels of commitment to the memory tests across the three trials, whereas the StratOnly condition reported drops in their task commitment. Study results emphasize that including self-regulatory factors, such as setting goals and receiving feedback, may increase commitment to a task, however those benefits may not immediately translate to better memory performance when training and testing is part of a brief, single experimental session. We suggest that future research evaluate a multiday memory intervention with the addition of goal-setting and feedback. Results of this study suggest that including goal-setting and feedback as part of a training program may benefit trainees’ commitment, which we speculate could aid individuals in maintaining persistent effort despite challenges and ultimately lead to better performance over a longer term.





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