ABILITIES, TRANSFER, AND INFORMATION RETRIEVAL IN VERBAL LEARNING
ILLINOIS UNIV AT URBANA URBANA
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In order to integrate results obtained from studies of the relationships of learning measures to abilities and those obtained from studies of the functioning of retrieval mechanisms in verbal learning, a model was suggested in which cognitive strategies, functioning as higher-order responses to the characteristics of a learning task, provide a mechanism of transfer from abilities to learning performance. To investigate the plausibility of this model, a multivariate verbal learning experiment was performed in which a task characteristic, cluster size, was varied in order to influence subjects choices of strategies. Specific experimental hypotheses concerned possible differences among treatment group centroids for learning and strategy measures, treatment group differences in the relative dependence of measured abilities and learning performance, in the relative dependence of measured abilities and strategy choice, and in relationships of individual abilities to learning performance. The results obtained supported the hypotheses. It was concluded that each of the treatment conditions represents a functionally distinct learning problem and that the results obtained conform to the model. It was further concluded that 1 verbal reports can constitute a reliable and valid source of data, 2 the amount of information about human learning obtainable from the behavior of learning curves may be limited, 3 it may be important to include some manipulated task characteristic in studies of the temporal relations of abilities with performance on learning tasks to ascertain the degree of invariance of such results with small changes in the task, and 4 models for verbal learning must recognize the importance of cognitive factors.