ERIC Number: EJ1095678
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Apr
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 22
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
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada (Saskatoon)