Item selection and self-paced study when learning Chinese pictographs: Does the region of proximal learning hypothesis apply to unfamiliar stimuli?
Murray, Rory Gallagher
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This experiment examined the order of learning when faced with a time-constrained, difficult, and unfamiliar task by using 36 Chinese-English word pairs. Eighty younger adults (18 to 25 years old) and forty older adults (60 to 80 years old) participated in this experiment. Participants were asked to make an Ease of Learning Judgment (EOL) for each Chinese character. Then, there were two distinct learning trials in which the participants studied the same 36 Chinese-English word pairs in six 2X3 grids. The younger adults had a maximum of 30 seconds of study time allowed per grid. The older adults had 60 seconds per grid. The critical question was whether individuals would focus study on easier items that have not yet been learned, as predicted by Metcalfe s region of proximal learning model, or whether they would simply study all unlearned items with equal emphasis (as predicted by the discrepancy-reduction model (DRM). Both age groups had relatively accurate EOL s corresponding to item complexity. Young adults showed no evidence for RPL predicated effects. Older adults exhibited behavior largely consistent with RPL predictions