Seeing is as good as doing
Given the privileged status claimed for active learning in a variety of domains (visuo-motor learning, causal induction, problem solving, education, skill learning), the present study examines whether action-based learning is a necessary, or a sufficient, means of acquiring the relevant skills needed to perform a task typically described as requiring active learning. To achieve this, the present study compared the effects of action-based and observation-based learning on controlling a complex dynamic task environment. Both action- and observationbased learners either learnt by describing the changes in the environment in the form of a conditional statement, or not. The findings show that observational learners are sensitive to the instructional manipulations pursued during learning, in ways that are comparable to the active learning conditions. For both, advantages in performance, accuracy in knowledge of the task, and self-insight were found when learning was based on inducing rules from the task environment.