Positive transfer and Negative transfer/Anti-Learning of Problem Solving Skills

Abstract

In problem solving research insights into the relationship between monitoring and control in the transfer of complex skills remain impoverished. To address this, in four experiments participants solved two complex control tasks that were identical in structure but varied in presentation format. Participants learnt either to solve the second task, based on their original learning phase from the first task, or learnt to solve the second task, based on another participant’s learning phase. Experiment 1 showed that, under conditions in which participants’ learning phase was experienced twice, performance deteriorated in the second task. In contrast, when the learning phases in the first and second tasks differed, performance improved in the second task. Experiment 2 introduced instructional manipulations that induced the same response patterns as Experiment 1. In Experiment 3 further manipulations were introduced that biased the way participants evaluated the learning phase in the second task. In Experiment 4, judgments of self-efficacy were shown to track control performance. The implications of these findings for theories of complex skill acquisition are discussed.

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