The influence of instructions on relationships between abilities and performance in a concept identification task

Norton, Ruth Elaine
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Trabasso and Bower's (1968) model of attention and their redundant relevant cues paradigm provided a framework within which the effects of certain instructional treatments were explored. In the redundant relevant cues paradigm, two cues are redundant (i.e., vary together) and either one or both may be used to solve the concept identification task. According to the attentional model, whether a person solves the task on one or both relevant cues is merely a matter of chance. The present study attempted to increase the proportion of subjects solving on two cues by altering certain aspects of the instructions to subjects. Another major feature of the study was the aptitude-by- treatment interaction methodology. All subjects were administered six factor-analytically-derived ability tests in order to explore the question of whether one- and two-cue solvers differ with respect to ability scores. In addition, the multiple linear regression model was used to test the significance of the difference in relationship of each ability to performance in the task (trials by criterion) among the four instructional treatment groups. The six ability tests were chosen on the assumption that they tapped important processes involved in solving the concept task. Manipulating task variables, such as instructions, implies the possibility of structuring learning tasks so that the transfer of a subject's unique set of abilities to the task is maximized. Subjects were 96 students enrolled in the introductory educational psychology course at the University of Hawaii. Each subject was randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups. The four groups resulted from the unique combinations of two levels of each of two treatments, and varied in terms of the initial instructions given to subjects relative to the task. The six ability tests were administered to students in groups during two separate class periods. The ability tests were Memory Span, Spontaneous Flexibility, Verbal, Inductive Reasoning, Flexibility of Closure, and Associative (Rote) Memory. Many anticipated relationships, effects, and interactions, failed to materialize, probably due to the ease of the redundant relevant cues task. The median number of trials to criterion was 4.7. In an easy task there are fewer processes shared by ability tests and the task and consequently weaker relationships between them may be found. The proportion of two-cue solvers was not increased significantly by the instructional treatments. Ability test scores were not significantly different for one- and two-cue solvers, though four approached significance. This may have been due to the small number of two-cue solvers (10 out of 96). One- and two-cue solvers were significantly different with respect to the number of trials to criterion. Though this is not inconsistent with Trabasso and Bower's model, it does appear contrary to their finding of no difference between one- and two-cue solvers with respect to number of errors prior to learning the task. The single aptitude-by-treatment interaction which reached significance was that involving Spontaneous Flexibility (Fs). The relationship between Fs and trials to criterion was differentially influenced by instructional treatments to a significant degree. Results indicated that for one treatment group Fs, or the ability to break set, was significantly related to learning the concept task.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1976.
Bibliography: leaves [69]-71.
v, 71 leaves, 3 leaves of plates col. ill
Concept learning, Learning, Psychology of
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Educational Psychology; no. 897
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