Strategy use and its evolvement in word list learning : a replication study

Matti Laine*, Daniel Fellman, Tilda Eräste, Liisa Ritakallio, Juha Salmi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


Spontaneous strategy employment is important for memory performance, but systematic research on strategy use and within-task evolvement is limited. This online study aimed to replicate three main findings by Waris and colleagues in Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology (2021): in word-list learning, spontaneous strategy use (1) predicts better task performance, (2) stabilizes along the task, and (3) increases during the first two task blocks. We administered a shortened version of their original real-word list-learning task to 209 neurotypical adults. Their first finding was partly replicated: manipulation strategies (grouping, visualization, association, narrative, other strategy) but not maintenance strategies (rehearsal/repetition, selective focus) were associated with superior word recall. The second finding on the decrease in strategy changers over task blocks was replicated. The third finding turned out to be misguided: neither our nor the original study showed task-initial increase in strategy use in the real-word learning condition. Our results confirm the important role of spontaneous strategies in understanding memory performance and the existence of task-initial dynamics in strategy employment. They support the general conclusions by Waris and colleagues: task demands can trigger strategy use even in a familiar task like learning a list of common words, and evolution of strategy use during a memory task reflects cognitive skill learning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number230651
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • episodic memory
  • list learning
  • memory strategy
  • mnemonics
  • skill learning


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