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 was designed to examine the effect of amount of training on the specificity of skill acquisition and transfer. Within the theoretical framework of two contemporary theories of skill acquisition, Anderson's ACT" theory (1982, 1987), and Logan's Instance theory of automisation (1988, 1990), the study extends research by Greig and Speelman (in press) that demonstrated skills can be both general (i.e., can apply beyond the training experience) and specific (i.e., are limited to training experiences). The experiment was divided into training and transfer phases. The amount of practice in the training phase was manipulated across three experimental conditions, with 14 participants in each condition. Participants were required to practice applying a small set of paired x and y values to a simple algebraic equation. The set of values for x and y was held constant during training, with a new set of values presented in the transfer phase. It was anticipated that training would result in improved performance, with those participants who received the greatest amount of training ultimately performing better on the training task. It was further anticipated these participants would demonstrate greater disruption on their initial performance on the transfer task, indicating greater specificity of skills to the items presented in the training phase. The results were similar to those reported by Greig and Speelman in that participants displayed evidence that both general and specific skill had been acquired. Furthermore, those participants who received the greatest amount of training also experienced the greatest amount of disruption in performance when presented with the transfer task. These results suggest that while the participants' skill was not totally specific to the items experienced in training, it was also not completely generalisable to different tasks. Results failed to differentiate between the three groups' performance in the transfer phase of the experiment as a function of the amount of practice each group received during the training phase. Reasons for this lack of difference between the groups' performance on the transfer task are discussed in the context of future research implications. The findings of the study are discussed in relation to the ACT* theory and the Instance theory, with the conclusion that the results provide the greatest support for the ACT* theory.

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