Optimizing group collaboration to improve later retention

Helena M. Blumen, Kayla E. Young, Suparna Rajaram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


In educational settings, collaborative learning and recall are often encouraged and sometimes required. Yet, we know very little about the cognitive processes that operate during collaboration, and how they can be optimized to improve later individual retention. The current study aimed to address this gap by testing how the operations of three cognitive processes during collaboration: (1) retrieval disruption, (2) re-exposure and (3) cross-cuing, influence the formation of individual and group recall strategies. Across two experiments, 252 undergraduates studied a word list and recalled it in a Collaborative-Collaborative-Individual-Individual (CCII), an Individual-Collaborative-Individual-Individual (ICII), or an Individual-Individual-Individual-Individual (IIII) sequence. A 40-min delay was inserted early (CC-delay-II, IC-delay-II and II-delay-II; Experiment 1) or later in the recall sequence (CCI-delay-I, ICI-delay-I and III-delay-I; Experiment 2) to assess the differential benefits of different recall sequences. Regardless of where the delay occurred in the recall sequence, both collaboration conditions (CC and IC) benefited later individual recall to a greater extent than the individual recall condition (CC. II>. III and IC. II>. IIII). Repeated collaboration (CC) generated greater post-collaborative recall benefits than single collaboration (IC) when the delay was inserted early in the recall sequence (CC-delay-. II>. IC-delay-. II), but the benefits were equivalent when the delay was inserted later in the recall sequence (CC. I-delay-. I-IC. I-delay-. I). Implications for future research and educational applications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)244-251
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014


  • Collaboration benefits
  • Collaborative inhibition
  • Collaborative memory
  • Cross-cuing
  • Group memory
  • Post-collaborative recall benefits
  • Re-exposure
  • Retrieval disruption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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