Effects of guidance, sequence, and attribute-treatment interactions on learning, retention, and transfer of hierarchically ordered skills

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An investigation was made of the effects of amount of guidance, sequence of instruction, and attribute-treatment interactions on speed of learning, retention, and transfer of ten intellectual skills that form part of a learning hiererchy and which are commonly part of secondary school physics courses. Four clearly-defined instructional methods were used; the methods form a linear scale from least to most guidance. It was found that the numbers of errors made in reaching a criterion performance on the skills decreased as the amount of guidance was increased, but transfer and retention were unaffected. Two sequence styles were used, which were both consistent with the requirement that no skill should be taught before the skills that were subordinate to it in the learning hierarchy. Form of sequence had no effect on speed of learning, retention, or transfer, and there was no interaction between sequence and amount of guidance. A novel method was employed to search for the presence of any interaction between attributes of learners and the amount of guidance. None was found. It is concluded that a maximum of guidance can be used to teach intellectual skills to all learners with no negative effect on retention and transfer. It is suggested that variables other than amount of guidance or sequence are more likely to affect a learner's retention or transfer of a skill. Finally, patterns of retention of skills that are connected in the learning hierarchy were found to be contrary to an earlier result. The patterns suggest that a skill in a learning hierarchy cannot be recalled unless its relevant subordinate skills are also recalled.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-152
Number of pages20
JournalInstructional Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1976

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