ERIC Number: ED219623
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Mar
Reference Count: 0
Trainability of Academic Skills in the Elderly.
The typical approach to studying the cognitive competencies of the elderly involves giving the same task to samples of elderly adults and college students. On such comparisons of performance of cognitive tasks, the elderly have almost always been found to be inferior, which is interpreted as indicating an irreversible age-determined decline in cognitive ability. A recent study was conducted to test the hypothesis that success on experimental tasks depends upon skills and strategies associated with formal schooling and that the elderly, removed in time from the school setting, no longer have ready access to these skills and strategies. The research involved an attempt to determine whether, within an elderly population, academic skills could be reinstituted through brief intervention and whether the ease of doing so would depend upon level of schooling. The basic technique involved giving a group of 99 white women with 6 to 17 years of schooling and a mean age of 72.6, matrix problems to solve independently. If they were unable to do so, progressively more explicit prompts for solution were provided. Transfer of training was assessed both by the extent to which subjects reduced the number of prompts needed and by their performance on novel problems for which no hints were available. It was found that training elevated the score on transfer across all educational levels and problem types (although college-educated subjects scored higher). An implication from the research is that to test elderly people in the same manner as school children and to assume the comparability of the results ignores the fact that the elderly are not members of the test-taking society. Such procedures are unfair to them and show a loss of cognitive ability that may not reflect reality. (KC)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Child Health and Human Development (NIH), Bethesda, MD.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (New York, NY, March 19-23, 1982).