Free recal categorical clustering as a function of age and sex in primary school children
Mwangi, Mary Wangari
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The purpose of this study was to investigate development and sex factors in free recall and categorical clustering among standard 2, 4 and 6 children. The functional utility of the categorical clustering strategy in recall was examined by studying the relationship between the two. The sample consisted of 180 children attending three primary schools in Buru Buru educational zone of Makadara Division in Nairobi. A free recall memory task was developed using child-defined exemplars provided by children in two non-participating schools in the same zone. The task composed of 20 words, four from each of the following categories: Animals, Furniture, Body Parts, Foods and Colours were individually administered to each child under standard instructions. The analysis of the data obtained revealed an absence of significant developmental differences in recall and clustering. However, developmental differences in recall and clustering emerged when the male scores were analysed separately. This finding points to the need for developmental studies to include a systematic analysis of sex differences. Significant sex differences in recall were obtained in standard 6 only, with boys having a higher mean recall score than girls. However, boys showed an initial developmental lag in clustering. In standard 2, girls were superior in clustering. These differences disappeared in standard 4 to reemerge in standard 6 in which boys were superior. These findings provide support for the initial male developmental lag in clustering reported in several studies (Kosuth, Carroll and Rogers, 1971; Lange and Geis, 1977; Cox and Waters, 1986). The relationship between recall and clustering was positive in all the standards, but significant in standards 4 and 6. These results suggest that the use of clustering strategies leads to improvements in recall. The findings of this study show the need for adopting instructional approaches and procedures that can enhance children's organizational capacity. Besides teaching the subject content, teachers should provide children with information processing facilitators.