Cue generation: How learners flexibly support future retrieval.
Allowing young learners to exert metacognitive control over learning often improves memory performance; however, little research has examined the consequences of giving older adults control over learning. In this study, younger and older adults studied word pairs before choosing half of the word pairs for restudy. Learners either restudied the items they chose (in the honor condition) or the items they did not choose (the dishonor condition; Kornell & Metcalfe, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 32:609-622, 2006). Older and younger learners chose the same types of items for restudy, but the effectiveness of these choices differed greatly by age. For young learners, memory was superior in the honor condition, but older learners actually revealed numerically higher performance in the dishonor condition. This reveals a dramatic failure of metacognitive control, in the absence of any obvious monitoring deficit, in older adults. Implications for models of self-regulated learning are discussed.