Learning words via reading: Contextual diversity, spacing, and retrieval effects in adults.

Ascensión Pagán, Kate Nation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


We examined whether variations in contextual diversity, spacing, and retrieval practice influenced how well adults learned new words from reading experience. Eye movements were recorded as adults read novel words embedded in sentences. In the learning phase, unfamiliar words were presented either in the same sentence repeated four times (same context) or in four different sentences (diverse context). Spacing was manipulated by presenting the sentences under distributed or non‐distributed practice. After learning, half of the participants were asked to retrieve the new words, and half had an extra exposure to the new words. Although words experienced in diverse contexts were acquired more slowly during learning, they enjoyed a greater benefit of learning at immediate posttest. Distributed practice also slowed learning, but no benefit was observed at posttest. Although participants who had an extra exposure showed the greatest learning benefit overall, learning also benefited from retrieval opportunity, when words were experienced in diverse contexts. These findings demonstrate that variation in the content and structure of the learning environment impacts on word learning via reading.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12705
JournalCognitive Science
Issue number1
Early online date7 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


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