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Retrieval-based word learning I (Leonard et al., 2019)

posted on 2019-04-04, 22:07 authored by Laurence B. Leonard, Jeffrey Karpicke, Patricia Deevy, Christine Weber, Sharon Christ, Eileen Haebig, Sofía Souto, Justin B. Kueser, Windi Krok
Purpose: Scholars have long noted that retention improves significantly when learners frequently test themselves on the new material rather than engage in continuous study with no intermittent testing. In this study, we apply the notion of repeated testing or retrieval to the process of word learning in preschool-age children with and without developmental language disorder (DLD).
Method: Novel words and their meanings were taught to 10 children with DLD and 10 typically developing (TD) children matched on age (DLD, M = 63.4 months; TD, M = 63.2 months). Recall was assessed immediately after the 2nd learning session and then again 1 week later.
Results: Both groups showed better retention when they had attempted to retrieve the words during the learning period than when they had simply listened to and studied the words paired with their referents. Relative to their TD peers, the children with DLD seemed to be weaker in their encoding, but these children’s retention over a 1-week period was indistinguishable from that of their age mates.
Conclusion: Word learning activities that include opportunities for repeated retrieval appear to significantly benefit retention relative to more traditional word learning activities.

Supplemental Material S1. Additional model results for the word form outcome.

Supplemental Material S2. Additional model results for the meaning outcome.
Supplemental Material S3. Model results for the recognition outcome.

Supplemental Material S4. Additional model results for the recognition outcome.

Leonard, L. B., Karpicke, J., Deevy, P., Weber, C., Christ, S., Haebig, E., ... Krok, W. (2019). Retrieval-based word learning in young typically developing children and children with developmental language disorder I: The benefits of repeated retrieval. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 62, 932–943.

Publisher Note: This article is a companion to Haebig et al., “Retrieval-Based Word Learning in Young Typically Developing Children and Children With Development Language Disorder II: A Comparison of Retrieval Schedules,”


This research was supported in part by Research Grant R01 DC014708 awarded to Laurence B. Leonard. Eileen Haebig was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship on Training Grant T32 DC00030