Role of Cognitive Factors in the Acquisition of Cognitive Skill
Interim rept. Nov 1986-Jan 1989
AIR FORCE HUMAN RESOURCES LAB BROOKS AFB TX
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This paper reviews recent studies and provides a theoretical framework for examining the relationships between individual differences in basic cognitive abilities and performance on tasks involving the acquisition of cognitive skill. A claim made is that much of cognitive skill can be characterized as a knowledge of how operators symbols denoting an operation to be performed in a skill domain actually work, and b knowledge of when to apply operators to achieve problem-solving goals. Studies of declarative learning, assumed to be the initial stage in skill acquisition, show that background knowledge and working memory capacity are primary determinants of success. Studies of cognitive skill learning per se make use of a distinction between attention capacity, which refers to how much information can be held in working memory at one time, and activation capacity, which refers to how long activation can be maintained. The success of learning by proceduralization is shown to depend on attention capacity, whereas the success of learning by composition is shown to depend additionally on activation capacity. Future research and the benefits of an individual differences approach to analyzing cognitive skill acquisition are discussed. Keywords Aptitudes Skills Cognition Cognitive ability Computerized testing Individual differences Learning Learning Abilities Measurement Program LAMP Learning ability.