The authors investigated the relationship of partial word knowledge and instruction by asking subjects to choose, from a pair of sentences, the correct use of a target word that they had or had not looked up in a dictionary. When the correct sentence of the pair could be chosen on the basis of general semantic constraints, subjects performed well even for words they had denied were part of their language, and instruction had no effect. Studying dictionary definitions did, however, increase the amount of specific, detailed information available in memory.
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