Date of Award

Spring 2009

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Michelle D Leichtman


A central part of the Reggio Emila approach to early childhood education is the teaching method of "documentation." In documentation, educators extensively observe, record, and display young children's work through its progression. Educational and developmental literatures offer speculative claims and a theoretical basis supporting the facilitative effects of documentation on young children's memory. The current study is the first to empirically investigate the effects that documentation has on episodic and semantic memory. Sixty-six four and a half to 6-year-old children experienced a novel learning event. Two days later the children were reminded of the event and its content information using either documentation or worksheets, or they were not reminded. Following a three-week delay interval children completed a memory interview. In-depth coding and analysis of the interview revealed that children in the documentation and worksheet conditions remembered more information than children in the control condition. This evidence suggests that worksheets and documentation serve as effective reminders for episodic and semantic memory. These effects were particularly apparent in open-ended (recollection) questions indicating that children were not just recognizing information but were actively recalling it. Analyses also revealed children's memory for information related to the props they held was remembered at a greater rate in the documentation and worksheet conditions. Furthermore, differences existed between younger and older children whereby kindergarten children remembered a greater amount during the memory interview than did preschool children. The present study suggests that documentation has positive benefits for young children's learning and memory supporting the claims of Reggio Emilia educators.