Difficulty in Learning to Read Speech Spectrograms: The Role of Visual Segmentation
PITTSBURGH UNIV PA LEARNING RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER
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This work examines possible sources of training difficulty encountered by learners of speech spectrogram reading. Such difficulty has been attributed to the context-dependent nature of the visual segmentation of spectrogram patterns Liberman et al, 1968, and suggestions by researchers of other difficult skills Biederman Shiffrar, 1983 have also implicated visual segmentation. In both cases, the discriminations necessary to distinguish important parts can be easily made once identified, but are enormously difficult to discover. The experiments presented here used a pseudo-spectrogram reading task which varied the segmentation rules subjects were required to discover. Experiment 1 found that considerable learning difficulty could be produced by this task, but confounded the source of that difficulty among several factors. The second experiment attempted to identify the sources of the difficulty. Segmentation was found to contribute significantly. The salience of the important cues, and potentially, the demands of the learning task were also found to increase the difficulty of discovering important visual distinctions. These results are discussed with respect to the skill of spectrogram reading and theories of perceptual attention learning. Training difficulty Context- dependent Visual segmentation Spectrograms Speech spectrogram reading Learning difficulties Task demands Salience Educational psychology.
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