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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The effects of concept acquisition components AI (attribute identification) and RL (rule learning) on the acquisition and transfer of complex concepts Stainton, John Brian


The present study considered a concept as the sum of two components: attributes and a rule. Extension of this model to the process of concept acquisition led to the notion of two component processes: attribute identification and rule learning. A subject provided with the relevant attributes in a task has only to acquire the correct conceptual rule. This process was called rule learning (RL). Initial provision of the appropriate rule requires only the acquisition of the relevant attributes, a process called attribute identification (Al). Provision of no initial information requires the learner to acquire both conceptual components. This process is called complete learning (CL). Seventy-two subjects were divided into six training groups. Five of these groups were assigned to learning paradigms that provided training on two complex concepts under varying amounts of initial information (CL-CL; AI-AI; AI-RL; RL-AI; and RL-RL). The sixth group acted as a control and performed filler tasks in place of the training tasks. The results showed that first-task learning in the paradigms had a significant effect on transfer performance. RL-first learners manifested the best transfer performance. An analysis of acquisition performance on the first learning task showed superior performance on the RL task followed by Al and CL tasks in that order. Implications of these results to practical classroom activity were discussed and illustrated with the use of an example from science education.

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