Strategy production during associative learning can be measured by self-reports made either concurrently with study or retrospectively. Both kinds of report presumably have strengths and weaknesses, yet a systematic comparison has not been conducted. Younger and older adults studied paired associates and reported strategy production using one or both kinds of report. Participants either received or did not receive descriptions of mediational strategies prior to study. Retrospective reports were not completely consistent with concurrent reports, suggesting that the validity of retrospective reports is somewhat diminished by forgetting. Making concurrent reports did not affect subsequent retrospective reports, but describing strategies affected reported strategy production for both age groups and paired-associate recall for older adults. A production deficiency constrained older adults' performance when they did not receive strategy descriptions prior to study. Discussion focuses on the relative utility of concurrent and retrospective reports of strategy production.
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