Knowledge and Ability Factors Underlying Simple Learning by Accretion
Interim technical paper Jan 1988-Jun 1989
AIR FORCE HUMAN RESOURCES LAB BROOKS AFB TX
Pagination or Media Count:
An experiment is reported in which the relationships between simple learning by accretion and various cognitive ability variables are explored. Seven sources of individual differences were hypothesized, working memory, lexical processing speed, metacognition, semantic inference, and incidental learning capacity. Computerized tests of these sources were administered to a sample of 714 Air Force recruits along with a trigram-English word paired associate task which was presented as a foreign language vocabulary learning task. Subjects were assigned at random to three groups control, semantic elaboration, and interactive imagery. Subjects in the semantic elaboration group were instructed to generate sentences to link the trigram and word in a memorable way. Subjects in the interactive imagery group were given the additional instruction of visualizing the generated sentence. Trigram consonant vowel consonants CVCs varied in meaningfulness across the two lists of eight pairs in the task. Results showed that meaningfulness and strategy had the expected main effects on learning. In addition, strategy interacted with verbal knowledge in initial learning such that high knowledge learners benefited more than low knowledge learners from either strategy. Regression analyses showed that a representative measure from each proposed source made a significant unique contribution to the explained variance in paired associate learning. The system of causal relationships is further examined through a path analysis. The results are discussed in reference to a general individual differences of model learning. Keywords Cognition Cognitive ability Computerized testing Individual differences Learning Learning ability.