Recitation as a structured intervention to enhance the long-term verbatim retention and gist recall of complex texts in kindergarteners

Hazar Eghbaria-Ghanamah, Rafat Ghanamah, Yasmin Shalhoub-Awwad, Avi Karni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recitation is an effective way for children to become familiar with basic blocks of knowledge. It is not clear, however, whether repeated structured exposure to complex texts via listening or active reciting benefits the ability of kindergarteners to retain verbal material in long-term memory verbatim and as content. Here, we tested the effectiveness of teaching longer texts to kindergarteners by repeated exposure in terms of long-term retention (6 months). A set of 28 rhyming sentences (224 words) were introduced, 3 in each session, and the increasingly longer text was practiced by either voiced recitation or listening. The rhymes were in a literary language, and word meaning in each new rhyme was elaborated when first introduced. Both groups (recitation and listening) showed good long-term retention, but the recitation group outperformed the listening group when assessed at 24 h, 1 month, and 6 months postintervention in terms of the recall rate, error rate, number of prompts required, and sequence fidelity. In the later assessments, the reciting group was the more fluent group in producing the rhymes. Moreover, at 6 months postintervention, the gist (content) of the rhymes and the meaning of vocabulary items from the texts were robustly retained, with an advantage for the recitation group. Thus, practice in affording multiple repetitions, specifically active recitation, resulted in fluent, effortless, and accurate recall of statements and their content. We propose that these results support the notion that repetition-based practice may promote the mastery of complex verbal material by enabling better engagement of procedural memory, that is, by promoting “proceduralization” processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105054
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Inc.


  • Intervention
  • Nursery rhymes
  • Procedural memory
  • Recall
  • Recitation/listening
  • Retention/long-term memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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