TRANSFER OF MENTAL ABILITIES AT DIFFERENT STAGES OF PRACTICE IN THE SOLUTION OF CONCEPT PROBLEMS.
EDUCATIONAL TESTING SERVICE PRINCETON N J
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Theories of learning have typically failed to give an account of the role of human abilities, while accounts of mental abilities have not explained their relationship to learning in any rigorous way. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship of a set of factor-analytically derived ability measures to performance at different stages of practice in a learning set task employing concept problems, and to consider possible constructs to explain these relationships. Twenty-six problems, each of which required the identification of a four-dimensional conjunctive concept, were administered to a sample of 145 Princeton University undergraduates. To account for the complex learning involved in this task, a conceptual model involving information-processing constructs was developed. Three higher-order processes were postulated a problem analysis process, which defined gaps between information available and information needed for solution a search process, which looked among available responses for operators to reduce or to remove these gaps and an organization process, which integrated operators thus found into a terminal program for solving the problems. A battery of 30 mental tests was administered to the same sample of students. The tests were selected as measures of factors chosen for their relevance to the model. The intercorrelations among the test scores were factor analyzed by a maximum-likelihood procedure. This procedure extracted factors in accordance with a simple-structure hypothesis set up in advance. A statistical test of this hypothesis showed it to be tenable. Author