Writing Up Assignment

Topics: Academic publishing, Psychology, Cognitive science Pages: 7 (2028 words) Published: December 13, 2012
Notes to help you with writing up Assignment 1: The effect of disfluency on memory for novel material.

Essential materials:

1. This assignment is based on the following paper which you will find on the VLE:

Diemand-Yauman, C., Oppenheimer, D. M. and Vaughan, E. B. (2011) Fortune favors the bold (and the italicised): Effects of disfluency on educational outcomes. Cognition, 118, pp. 111–115.

2. ‘Writing up practical reports’ document from the VLE. 3. Practical reports markscheme from the module handbook. 4. Guidance from the module handbook on submission of assignments

Please note that the 2,000 ± 10% word-count excludes the abstract, graphs, data tables, references and the Appendix.


This section tends to be the last one that you write. There is a good model of an abstract in ‘Writing up practical reports’ on which you should base yours. Be sure to include named key research, succinct statements of statistical results (not just p values) and your conclusions and implications of the findings.


In this section you set the scene for the reader and make a case for your research question(s) based on existing research. Try to avoid a chatty, journalistic style; instead you should imagine yourself giving evidence which you can back up with respectable publications i.e. peer-reviewed journals, respected academic authors, university websites. Some references are given at the end of this document out of which you should pick relevant material. They are obtainable via links and on the VLE but do try to find some additional sources of your own. Avoid Wikipedia or other websites in which the trustworthiness of the content cannot be verified. The argument for the research question should flow naturally from your chosen material e.g. you might argue for testing the reliability of the original findings or doing a replication with an important change to the original design or testing the findings’ validity with new participant groups.

The key research you are following is that of Diemand-Yauman, Oppenheimer and Vaughan (2011). They argue that educational strategies are sometimes based on beliefs about how to facilitate learning which are not always tested out and may even turn out to be wrong. One such belief is that reading material presented in perceptually fluent (clear, unfussy sans serif) fonts such as Arial or Calibri, is easier to absorb than material presented in perceptually disfluent fonts such as Times New Roman or Monotype Corsiva. The belief seems to be that clarity of font somehow allows students to conserve their cognitive resources so that they have more left over to expend on memorising. Indeed students do subjectively experience material in a disfluent font as more difficult to read but Diemand-Yauman et al. found that it is better remembered than the same material in fluent font. Although it seems counter-intuitive, making things harder to do can sometimes improve retention thus it is important to distinguish ‘desirable difficulties’ which improve cognitive functions such as retention from undesirable difficulties which hinder or have no effect on them.

You have 600-700 words for this section so choose carefully from key theories and research. Introductions tend to start in fairly general terms and then become more focused so: * start with some research into how increasing cognitive burden in general can have desirable effects. Try to cover a variety of examples of desirable cognitive outcomes. Various studies are decribed in the Diemand-Yauman et al (2011) paper to give you some ideas. * Next find some examples of difficulties which have shown desirable effects specifically on retention. You may, for example, be familiar with the work of Craik and Lockhart (1972) and Craik and Tulving (1975) who found that more effortful processing of material to be remembered led to better retention. * You should then focus specifically on research into the...
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