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University Scholars Program
SEnter Search Terms
2002 - 2003 University Scholar
Mentor: Lise Abrams
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Or maybe it is Tracy? Ohl I know.
It's Stacy-Stacy Eitel. She is a University Scholar who studies tip-of-the-tongue states
and what part of a word needs to be activated in order for a person to be able to retrieve
"The purpose of my experiment was to examine whether reading specific components of
phonology aloud or silently influences word retrieval during tip-of-the-tongue states," she
says. "Basically, I researched what part of the tip-of-the-tongue state word needs to be
activated in your mind before you will be able to recall and produce the word you are
As a researcher in Psychology Professor Lise Abrams' lab, Stacy presented 84
undergraduates with 80 general knowledge questions and asked them whether they
knew the word the question was referring to, did not know the word, or were
experiencing a tip-of-the-tongue state. Questions, stimuli and responses were all shown
and recorded by computer. Those who either didn't know the word in question or were
experiencing a tip-of-the-tongue state were read a list of words that included two
phonological primes intermixed with eight unrelated words. The phonological primes
contained either the first syllable or first phoneme of the tip-of-the-tongue target word.
"The goal of the research is to help older adults, who rank tip-of-the-tongue states as
one of their most annoying cognitive failures," Stacy says. "To aid them, since first
syllable primes seem to help people resolve tip-of-the-tongue-states, they should be
taught to make all the syllable combinations silently to themselves in hope of sparking
the retrieval of the word. For example, if you are trying to remember the word
kaleidoscope and you think it might start with a 'K' sound, you can say in your head: 'ko',
'ki', 'k', 'ka or ke,' which may spark the retrieval of kaleidoscope."
Stacy's USP paper won a Best Quantitative Paper award in the 2002-2003 USP Best
Paper Competition. She presented her research at the American Psychological Society's
15th Annual Convention in Atlanta. After graduating in December 2002 with a BS in
psychology, Stacy joined Teach for America. This fall, she began her two-year
commitment as a sixth grade math teacher at Jackson Middle School in Houston, TX.
I decided to join Teach for America because I firmly believe in its mission to close the
achievement gap," she says. "I also have a strong interest in not only cognitive
psychology, but education and learning methods. I was a remedial math tutor at UF and
it always interested me to see the gaps people had in their math knowledge. I wondered
what had gone awry during their math education. I plan on returning to graduate school
after my commitment to Teach for America to research teaching methods and teacher
Stacy says her experiences as a USP scholar are helping her in her career as a teacher. "I
learned the value of patience," she says. "When something doesn't work out the way you
planned, try a new tactic and have another go at it. Teaching is very similar in that
regard. Also, presenting my research to others gave me the experience of speaking in
front of large groups, since I have about 25-30 kids per class." And if she ever
experiences a tip-of-the-tongue-state in the classroom, Stacy knows just what to do.
"It hasn't happened to me yet while teaching, but it does happen to me occasionally at
home or elsewhere. I've actually used the techniques I have learned, and it works for
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