Educational Psychology Review

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 113–145 | Cite as

Material-appropriate processing: A contextualist approach to reading and studying strategies

  • Mark A. McDaniel
  • Gilles O. Einstein


Processing strategies or text adjuncts that are mnemonically effective with some types of text produce no benefits with other text types. A framework for understanding these seemingly inconsistent mnemonic effects across different types of text is presented. The framework suggests that two types of conceptual elaboration are important for free recall: individual-item processing and relational processing. The mnemonic effectiveness of text adjuncts or other manipulations to increase elaboration of a text will depend on: (1) the type of conceptual elaboration induced by the particular text adjunct or study strategy; (2) the type of elaboration invited by the text itself; and (3) the overlap between the processing induced by the text adjunct or study strategy and the processing invited by the text itself. Significant enhancement in recall is anticipated only to the extent that the text adjunct or study strategy encourages processing that is complementary to the processing invited by the material itself. The viability of this framework is demonstrated in a review of the pertinent literature on the mnemonic effects of encoding difficulty. Then, research stimulated by the framework that uses educationally relevant study and text adjuncts (embedded questions, outlining, adjunct pictures) is reviewed. Predictions generated by the framework are consistently upheld.

Key words

memory learning elaboration 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark A. McDaniel
    • 1
  • Gilles O. Einstein
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychological SciencesPurdue UniversityWest Lafayette
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyFurman UniversityGreenville

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