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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Individual differences in processes and strategies in analogical reasoning Wilson, Nancy Louise


The need was presented for further research of the quantitative and qualitative nature of individual differences in achievement ability. The componential theory of analogical reasoning was used to identify differences in processes and strategies used to solve pictorial analogies by students of low, average, and high achievement ability. Subjects were 60 boys and girls from nine grade four classes in four schools in the Lower Mainland. One third of the group were high in achievement ability, one third were average, and one third were low. The criterion used to determine achievement ability was the Canadian Test of Basic Skills. The average age in the low group was 9 years, 9 months, in the average group 9 years, 8 months, and in the high group 9 years, 8 months. These subjects performed a series of forced-choice pictorial analogy tasks of the standard form A is to B as C is to D1 or D2. The analogies were presented in booklets. Each booklet contained 16 analogies, four per page. Subjects were given 64 seconds to work on each booklet. The booklets were administered over two sessions. Total time spent on an analogy booklet was decomposed into estimates of the time spent on each component (process) used in solution. Response times for number of items correct and number of items completed for each booklet were predicted from independent variables representing variations in the complexity of analogy items over the 24 booklets. Seven models were fitted to the 24 booklet scores at each ability level. The models differed in the components hypothesized to be used in solution and in the mode of component execution, exhaustive, or self-terminating. The model which best accounted for the variance in the data was designated as the preferred model. Multiple regression results suggested that there were qualitative differences in analogy solution for the three groups. The same model was preferred by the high and average groups, but a more exhaustive mode of execution was preferred in the low group. Significant quantitative group differences were found in a univariate analysis of variance which indicated that the high ability group had significantly shorter latencies correct than did the average and low groups. The average group had lower latencies correct than did the low group, but this difference was not significant. These results were subject to certain limitations in that there was evidence, especially in the low group, that the preferred models were not necessarily the complete models, and that additional factors such as nonlinear processing, speed, floor, and ceiling effects may have affected the results. Findings were discussed in terms of the above limitations and Sternberg's theory of analogical reasoning. Implications of these results for future research in individual differences were drawn.

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