The role of schematic support in strategy choice during cognitive skill learning

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jack Kuhns (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Dayna Touron

Abstract: This study examines influences on strategic differences in skill learning that occur with increasing age. Older adults differ in their strategic approach to cognitive skill acquisition tasks, where their progression from slow algorithmic processing to faster memory-based processing is slowed relative to young adults. In addition to difficulties older adults have with learning new associations, the difference in task approach has been linked to strategic choice, where factors such as lower confidence change how they interact with the task (e.g., Touron, 2015). The present study sought to understand older adults’ strategic task approach by manipulating the task items to be more naturalistic with everyday experience. Participants completed a task that associated grocery items with prices, which are easier to learn if the prices are consistent with everyday experience (Castel, 2005). The relations between the grocery items and prices were manipulated to be familiar by approximating market prices, or to be unfamiliar by being overpriced. I found that use of the market-prices facilitates older adults’ strategic approach to the task, demonstrated through greater and earlier use of memory-based processing than older adults with overpriced items. Surprisingly, the young adults in the overpriced condition also showed less use of memory-based processing, linked with lower task confidence; young adults have not previously shown reluctance to use memory strategies in cognitive skill acquisition tasks. Consequences of task confidence are discussed, as well as implications for theories of cognitive skill acquisition.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2018
Aging, Automaticity, Skill acquisition, Strategies, Metacognition, Skill learning
Learning, Psychology of
Cognition in old age
Memory in old age

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