Date of Award

1998

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Health and Human Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Craig Speelman

Abstract

This study examined the transfer of skills developed in solving a simple algebraic formula. Forty-two university Psychology undergraduates, randomly assigned to one of two training groups. were required to practice solving the formula (X2-Y)/2 by substituting numbers for the variables x and y. One group of participants practiced with eight sets of numbers, while the other group practiced with 16 sets of numbers. All participants performed 320 trials during training. In the transfer phase, the response times required to solve the same formula with a set of numbers not previously encountered was analysed to determine if the variation in training (a small or large set of numbers), affected the transferability of the acquired skill. Results indicated that partial positive transfer occurred, indicated by the response times for the transfer phase being significantly faster than the response times at the commencement of training, but not as fast as at the completion of training. Furthermore, transferability was a function of variation in training, indicated by participants who encountered a greater number of x and y stimulus pairs during the training phase being significantly faster on the transfer items than the participants who trained with a smaller number of x and y stimulus pairs. Results are consistent with the ACT* theory of skill acquisition, but present several difficulties for the Instance theory. Future directions and implications for the results of this study and how they can contribute to the development of more efficient training programs are also discussed.

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