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Effects of differing amounts of visual cues and intervening responses on the acquisition of linear function rules Dobson, Leona Nancy

Abstract

The effect of pointing (presence or absence) as an intervening activity, at the salient features of pictorial representations of differing amounts of visual cues (weight, context, both, or neither) for a concrete weighing operation, was investigated on the acquisition rate of three linear function rules. They were a coefficient rule (a. F = S), an intercept rule (F + b = S), and a complex rule (a. F + b = S), in a rule learning paradigm for Grades 4, 5, and 6 school children. The first two rules were presented in a counter-balanced order. Univariate analyses of variance of total error and ratio of error measures indicated that the pointing response was more effective than not pointing for the faster acquisition of the first task. Pointing was not significantly effective for the second task, although the combination of context and weight cues was more effective for this task than was each visual cue presented alone. The effects of training Ss to point on the two tasks, when transferred to the third, Complex-Rule task with no visual cues present, were negative. The findings were interpreted to mean that the calling of the Ss' attention to visual cues by pointing is only effective for the first task undertaken, and the benefit from pointing diminishes thereafter. The negative transfer to the last task can be accounted for by a presumably inevitable change in strategy as the problem, for those who have been accustomed to making the pointing response, switches from the concrete context of a weighing situation to an abstract problem in numbers.

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