Psychology ETDs


Jon G. Rogers

Publication Date



Input and output speed were investigated to determine if they were components of learning-to-learn. The major criterion used to distinguish learning-to-learn from warm-up has generally (e.g. Hamilton, 1950) been the temporal persistence of learning-to-learn phenomena.

Sixteen paired-associate practice lists consisting of high frequency words were presented for two trials to four acquisition groups in two sessions a day apart. Each acquisition group received input at either a fast (2 sec.) or slow (5 sec.) rate. Input speed (i.e., study interval) was the time the stimulus-response unit appeared. Subjects were required to respond to a light occurring at either a fast (.8 sec. after the onset of anticipation interval), or slow (3 sec. after onset of anticipation interval) rate. The third day each of the four acquisition groups was divided into fourths with one group being changed to the conditions received by each of the other groups and one group continuing under acquisition conditions.

Acquisition data were consistent in showing reliable learning-to-learn in each of the four groups. On the Day 3 transfer task, the data showed that changing input speed and/or output speed resulted in a reliable decrement in learning. The decrement occurred regardless of whether the Day 3 speed was faster or slower than the practiced speed.

These results supported the hypotheses that both speed parameters are components of learning-to-learn. The findings were discussed in terms of their relationship to micromolar theory. It was contended that general habits with respect to input and output speeds were developed such that learning new material was best if the practiced habits were appropriate. Changing the speed parameter(s) effectively required the subject to learn quantitatively different speed response(s). It was suggested that changing the speed components disrupted learned pacing behavior. Data from an analysis of overt errors occurring in transfer were used to support this explanation.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Frank Anderson Logan

Second Committee Member

Henry Carleton Ellis

Third Committee Member

David W. Bessemer

Fourth Committee Member

Karl Koenig



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Psychology Commons