Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Kenneth A. Blick

Second Advisor

Dr. L. James Tromater

Third Advisor

Dr. Frederick J. Kozub


The purpose of the study was to investigate the effects of the three encoding techniques of rote memory, semantic, and self-reference, on short-term and long-term retention levels of unfamiliar vocabulary words and their meanings. Seventy-two college students participated in the experiment, with 24 students in each encoding group. All participants viewed 20 target words and their definitions, and were exposed to each word for 30 seconds. Each group was given instructions designed to promote a type of encoding specific to their group. After a five-minute distractor task, subjects were given a list of the target words and were tested on the recall of the definitions of those words. A retest was administered after one week. As hypothesized, encoding by self-reference produced significantly higher scores than encoding by semantic strategies or by rote memory. It was concluded that encoding by self-reference may lead to higher short-term and long-term retention levels of the meanings of unfamiliar nouns and adjectives.

Included in

Psychology Commons