Lyle Stimulated Recall

Lyle, J. (2003). Stimulated recall: A report on its use in naturalistic research. British Educational Research Journal, 29(6), pp. 861-878.



  • “It (SR) is an introspection procedure in which (normally) videotaped passages of behaviour are replayed to individuals to stimulate recall of their concurrent cognitive activity (p. 861).”
  • Hoffman et al. (1995) argued that think aloud protocols are inefficient. (I wonder why?)


Previous Studies

  • In SR, you can select the instances in a very systematic fashion by using time as the determining factor. Ex. View a two minute clip every 7 min. You can also determine the instances around which the discussion will occur by selecting critical instances.
  • “Wilcox and Trudel (1998) acknowledged that narratives produced from SR may not represent the conscious or unconscious cognitions taking place at the time of the videotaped episode (p. 864).” (My questions - Then why is reaction worse than recall? Is it actually possible to recall? Wouldn't you be generally reacting when you recall in any situation?)
  • “He (Calderhead 1981) notes that there are issues arising from the subjects’ anxiety, the limitations of the visual cues (i.e. not being from the subjects’ perspective), whether tacit knowledge can be verbalized, and conscious censoring of the recall by the subject (p. 864).” (My questions - To what extent does perception impact recall? Meaning, Calderhead is arguing that SR does not account for the individual's perception because the video is not seen through their eyes. To what extent do the insider and outsider perceptions need to be negotiated in recall?)
  • SR is used to investigation cognitive processes.
  • (My thoughts - It seems to me that recall can only happen when there is no stimulus. If a stimulus exists, such as video, it could technically be reaction. Recall relies on memory.)
  • To make SR as valid as possible, it is important to conduct the think aloud portions as close to the lesson as possible. Allow the least amount of time as possible to elapse between the videotaping and the post conversation.
  • “Key to the validity issue is the need to ensure that the questions/prompts do not alter the cognitive process being employed at the time of the event (p. 865).”
  • “It is necessary to reduce anxiety; limit the perception of judgmental probing; reduce the intrusion into the action; stimulate rather than present a novel perspective/insight; make the retrospection as immediate as possible; allow the subject a relatively unstructured response; and employ an ‘indirect’ route to the focus of the research (pp. 865-866).”


The Research Study

  • Any research method used to investigate cognitive research is problematic because of the nature of the research.


The Stimulated Recall Procedures Adopted in the Study

  • (My questions - Why is reflection viewed in a negative light? What strengths would reflection bring?)


Advantages and Disadvantages of the SR Method

  • “The main concern is the extent to which the subjects have reordered their thoughts before or during the recall process. Although there is no previous practice with which to substantiate this suggestion, future studies might examine the possibility of a test-retest procedure (perhaps after a few days or one week) in order to establish the degree of reordering of responses that is taking place. An increased level of reordering would be an interesting finding in its own right, would validate suggestions about events being stored in a ‘deeper’ level of memory from which ‘abstracted’ recall takes place, and would demonstrate the need to elicit an immediate reaction from the subjects in any study (p. 872).”
  • SR is contextually based.
  • “Classroom studies should favor the ‘stop and remember’ rather than ‘talk you through it’ approach (p. 873).”


Summary and Application to Educational Research

  • “Nevertheless, this review of the method suggests that, while the classroom research is substantiated, greater care needs to be given to the SR procedures. The evidence from this study suggests that researchers should give increased attention to the image presented and to more ‘open’ accounts of the cognitive organization associated with classroom behavior, or, perhaps more fruitfully, greater use of indirect methods of representing cognitive processes in teacher behavior (p. 874).”
  • (My question - How would using it in microteaching alleviate the pitfalls of recall versus reflection?)


Other Resources:

  • Calderhead, J. (1981). Stimulated recall: A method for research on teaching. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 51, pp. 211 – 217.
  • Hoffman, R. R., Shadbolt, N.R., Burton, A. M., & Klein, G. (1995). Eliciting knowledge from experts: A methodological analysis. Organisational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes, 62, pp. 129 – 158. (No issue listed.)
  • Wilcox, S. & Trudel, P. (1998). Constructing the coaching principles and beliefs of a youth ice hockey coah. AVANTE, 4(3), pp. 39 – 66.