**ERIC Number:**EJ1095678

**Record Type:**Journal

**Publication Date:**2016-Apr

**Pages:**9

**Abstractor:**As Provided

**Reference Count:**22

**ISBN:**N/A

**ISSN:**ISSN-0278-7393

Operator Priming and Generalization of Practice in Adults' Simple Arithmetic

Chen, Yalin; Campbell, Jamie I. D.

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v42 n4 p627-635 Apr 2016

There is a renewed debate about whether educated adults solve simple addition problems (e.g., 2 + 3) by direct fact retrieval or by fast, automatic counting-based procedures. Recent research testing adults' simple addition and multiplication showed that a 150-ms preview of the operator (+ or ×) facilitated addition, but not multiplication, suggesting that a general addition procedure was primed by the + sign. In Experiment 1 (n = 36), we applied this operator-priming paradigm to rule-based problems (0 + N = N, 1 × N = N, 0 × N = 0) and 1 + N problems with N ranging from 0 to 9. For the rule-based problems, we found both operator-preview facilitation and generalization of practice (e.g., practicing 0 + 3 sped up unpracticed 0 + 8), the latter being a signature of procedure use; however, we also found operator-preview facilitation for 1 + N in the absence of generalization, which implies the 1 + N problems were solved by fact retrieval but nonetheless were facilitated by an operator preview. Thus, the operator preview effect does not discriminate procedure use from fact retrieval. Experiment 2 (n = 36) investigated whether a population with advanced mathematical training--engineering and computer science students--would show generalization of practice for nonrule-based simple addition problems (e.g., 1 + 4, 4 + 7). The 0 + N problems again presented generalization, whereas no nonzero problem type did; but all nonzero problems sped up when the identical problems were retested, as predicted by item-specific fact retrieval. The results pose a strong challenge to the generality of the proposal that skilled adults' simple addition is based on fast procedural algorithms, and instead support a fact-retrieval model of fast addition performance.

Descriptors: Adults, Priming, Arithmetic, Addition, Individual Differences, Multiplication, Generalization, Problem Solving, Experiments, Foreign Countries, Statistical Analysis, Computation, Mathematics

American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail: order@apa.org; Web site: http://www.apa.org

**Publication Type:**Journal Articles; Reports - Research

**Education Level:**N/A

**Audience:**N/A

**Language:**English

**Sponsor:**N/A

**Authoring Institution:**N/A

**Identifiers - Location:**Canada (Saskatoon)