Date of Award

Winter 12-2017

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Master of Arts (AM/MA)

Degree Type



The levels of processing (LOP) effect shows that semantic processing leads to better retention than other types of processing. The effect is routinely obtained on many types of tests, yet, to this day, its mechanisms are still debated and it is poorly understood. In two old/new recognition experiments, I investigated potential explanations as to why the LOP effect occurs under intentional learning instructions. I asked a) whether subjects were aware of the LOP effect while they were studying the material, b) whether explicitly encouraging subjects to study the words with their idiosyncratic strategies would eliminate the effect, and c) whether the shallow orienting tasks impaired future performance after deep encoding of the material. I employed the standard LOP paradigm in which the orienting question appeared before the word (Experiment 1) and a reversed order paradigm in which the word appeared before the orienting question (Experiment 2). In both experiments, a group of subjects made judgments of learning (JOLs). The results indicated that subjects did not accurately predict the LOP effect, even though they were somewhat aware of it. The LOP effect still occurred under the reversed order paradigm with explicit instructions to study during delay and under the reversed order paradigm with JOLs, though it was attenuated or eliminated between some levels. In addition, the act of making JOLs enhanced performance for the shallow orienting tasks, adding to evidence that JOLs are reactive measures. Thus, giving JOLs can promote semantic processing to some extent and attenuate the LOP effect. Not being able to predict the LOP effect accurately and not engaging in spontaneous semantic processing under the shallow orienting questions might be potential explanations for the recurring LOP effect under intentional learning instructions.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Henry L. Roediger III

Committee Members

Kathleen McDermott, Mark McDaniel


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