VLI 2(1): Ishii (2013)

Reexamining Semantic Clustering: Insight from Memory Models
Tomoko Ishii
Seikei University
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.7820/vli.v02.1.ishii
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It has been repeatedly argued that semantically related words should not
be learned together because learning is impeded. However, the results of
past studies are not uniform, some providing favorable results for
semantic clustering, and some seem to suggest different types of similarity
affect memory in different ways. The types of similarity that truly cause
the problem therefore need to be examined more carefully. Focusing on
visual features, which are commonly observed across different models of
working memory, a study was conducted to examine if learners have
difficulty memorizing a group of words that describe items with common
physical features. The study compared the learning of three types of word
sets: unrelated, semantically related, and physically related. While no
statistically significant difference was observed between semantically
related and unrelated sets, the scores for physically related sets were
significantly lower than those for the other two types. This suggests the
possibility that the impeding effect of semantic clustering reported in the
past could be partly due to the precise nature of semantically similar
words, which sometimes share visual features.

Reexamining semantic clustering: Insight from memory models. Vocabulary Learning and Instruction, 2 (1), 1-7. doi: 10.7820/vli.v02.1.ishii