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I'm a little bit confused about the definition of a free recall test. According to Wikipedia:

Items are usually presented one at a time for a short duration, ...

If 10 items are presented at the same time for a short duration and subjects are asked to recall them later, could you still say this is a free recall test?

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  • $\begingroup$ You mean put a grid up on the screen with 10 words, then take it down and ask them to repeat the words? If so that is free recall. $\endgroup$ – StrongBad May 23 at 18:32
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @StrongBad. I was confused because Most of the studies did not give all words at the same time to subjects. $\endgroup$ – user3242742 May 23 at 21:04
  • $\begingroup$ I think it might be better to edit this question to ask what the defining characteristics of free recall experiments are. $\endgroup$ – StrongBad May 24 at 12:37
  • $\begingroup$ @StrongBad Not certain. This is very much a valid question framed in some initial research (+1). I see no real reason to change it just so that it 'would cover more ground'. In case a more general question would have been asked before, I agree we could have closed it as a duplicate of that one. For now, this is just fine. $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris May 24 at 13:31
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Free recall refers to not being given exemplars during the retrieval task. For example, multiple choice would be called recognition here, not recall. The format of the presentation such as simultaneous vs. serial, or format of the recall in terms of ordering or grouping, would not affect the term free recall.

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  • $\begingroup$ @Steven: I flag StrongBad's comment as obsolete. Would that make your added footnote obsolete too? Would that be fair if the readers don't know its original author? $\endgroup$ – Ooker May 24 at 14:55
  • $\begingroup$ I don't know when to delete that kind of process/meta-talk. happy to $\endgroup$ – Cameron Brick May 24 at 15:11
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Memory recall is generally tested with one of three paradigms: serial, cued, and free. In serial recall the subject must recall the items in a specified order (e.g., forward or backwards). In cued recall, the items are usually presented in pairs and the subject is told to recall the matching item to one half of the pair. In free recall, subjects can repeat the items in whatever order they want.

Typically items are presented to subjects one at a time, so the experimenter can know in what order they are encoded. There is no reason that multiple items cannot be presented at once (e.g., words in a grid). How the items are presented is independent of the recall procedure (i.e., cued, serial, free).

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