Abstract

Students learn declarative concepts (abstract concepts denoted by key terms and short definitions) in many courses. For example, students learning about operant conditioning would learn ‘positive reinforcement’. Instructors and textbooks frequently provide concrete examples to support concept learning (e.g. for positive reinforcement, an example involving a father rewarding his daughter for putting her toys away). Previous research shows that providing students with examples enhances concept comprehension (Rawson et al., 2015; Zamary & Rawson, 2016). However, a common learning goal is for students to be able to apply declarative concepts in novel contexts. The current research was designed to investigate if provided examples can directly benefit novel application. Participants were randomly assigned to a definitions group or examples group. All participants read a textbook passage containing concept definitions and 1 example for each of the 10 concepts from operant conditioning. During practice, participants either practiced retrieving concept definitions or provided examples. On each trial, participants were given the concept term and were asked to recall the target information (either the definition or example of that concept, depending on group assignment) and then restudied the target information. Practice continued until each target was correctly recalled three times. Two days later, participants completed final tests: definition cued recall, example cued recall, and an example generation test. Of greatest interest was the example generation test, in which participants applied the concepts in novel scenarios. The examples group outperformed the definitions group on this test, showing that provided examples can directly benefit novel concept application.

Modified Abstract

Students learn declarative concepts (e.g. positive reinforcement) in many courses. Previous research shows that providing students with examples enhances concept comprehension. However, a common goal is for students to be able to apply concepts in novel contexts. The current research investigated if provided examples can benefit novel application. All participants read a text containing definitions and 1 example for 10 psychology concepts. Participants either practiced retrieving concept definitions or provided examples. On each trial, participants were given the concept term and were asked to recall and restudy the target information until correctly recalled three times. Two days later, participants completed tests, including example generation. The examples group outperformed the definitions group on the example generation test, showing that provided examples can benefit novel concept application.

Research Category

Psychology

Author Information

Stephanie HilliardFollow

Primary Author's Major

Speech Pathology & Audiology

Mentor #1 Information

Ms. Amanda Zamary

Presentation Format

Poster

Start Date

21-3-2017 1:00 PM

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Research Area

Cognitive Psychology | Psychology

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Mar 21st, 1:00 PM

Provided examples directly benefit novel concept application

Students learn declarative concepts (abstract concepts denoted by key terms and short definitions) in many courses. For example, students learning about operant conditioning would learn ‘positive reinforcement’. Instructors and textbooks frequently provide concrete examples to support concept learning (e.g. for positive reinforcement, an example involving a father rewarding his daughter for putting her toys away). Previous research shows that providing students with examples enhances concept comprehension (Rawson et al., 2015; Zamary & Rawson, 2016). However, a common learning goal is for students to be able to apply declarative concepts in novel contexts. The current research was designed to investigate if provided examples can directly benefit novel application. Participants were randomly assigned to a definitions group or examples group. All participants read a textbook passage containing concept definitions and 1 example for each of the 10 concepts from operant conditioning. During practice, participants either practiced retrieving concept definitions or provided examples. On each trial, participants were given the concept term and were asked to recall the target information (either the definition or example of that concept, depending on group assignment) and then restudied the target information. Practice continued until each target was correctly recalled three times. Two days later, participants completed final tests: definition cued recall, example cued recall, and an example generation test. Of greatest interest was the example generation test, in which participants applied the concepts in novel scenarios. The examples group outperformed the definitions group on this test, showing that provided examples can directly benefit novel concept application.