DIFFERENTIAL EFFECTS OF CHRONOLOGICAL AGE, INCENTIVE PREFERENCE, AND TYPE OF TASK ON THE CENTRAL AND INCIDENTAL LEARNING OF CHILDREN
Interest in children's central and incidental learning has been proliferating during the past decade because such studies provide the opportunity to investigate the development of selective processes in attention. Hagen and his associates have been leaders in this investigation and have documented the normal developmental progression of this ability in children. However, a distinction has been drawn between visual materials with intrinsic and extrinsic components with evidence to suggest that these two types of stimuli may be different in function. Easterbrook has argued that the perception, learning, and recall of stimulus components are inversely related to the degree of incentive under which a person is operating. Only preliminary studies have examined the relationship of incentive to selective attention, and none have been completed on the relationship between incentive and the two types of stimulus material. This study sought to investigate the relationship of chronological age, incentive preference, and type of task on the central and incidental learning of children. A total of 160 normal children between 7- and 8-, and 11- and 12-years of age from the regular class program of a moderate-sized, middle-class, school district participated in the research. Subjects in each age group were randomly assigned to either an intrinsic or extrinsic type of task under high incentive, low incentive, or control conditions. Incentive preferences were determined through the paired comparisons procedure. Each child was administered Hale and Piper's (1973) intrinsic or extrinsic tasks of selective attention according to specific procedures for the respective tasks and for the assigned incentive conditions. Measurement consisted of the number of central and incidental components correctly recalled. Two three way analyses of variance were used to examine the data obtained on the two dependent measures of central and incidental recall scores. The Pearson Product-Moment Correlation was performed on the central and incidental scores to determine if a significant relationship existed between these two measures. In support of previous findings, significant differences were obtained between the age groups on the central recall measure and for the type of tasks employed on the incidental recall measure. However, the present research found no significant differences or interaction effects for the other variables used in the study. In contrast to previous studies, no significant relationships were found to exist between the central and incidental recall scores. Several interpretations of the results were discussed. The statistical source for the lack of significant differences was posited to be the large amount of variance within the experimental groups in view of the fact that several substantial mean score differences had been noted on the dependent measures. Possible rationales for the findings of the study included the distracting effects of the incentives and intra-individual reactions to the incentive treatments. The need for future research was suggested to be further inquiry into this area with subjects who possess learning handicaps and with those of differing mental ability. It was also suggested that the interaction of cognitive strategies and the levels of incentive preference be included in future research. The need for methodological changes in the paired comparison procedure was presented.
COPPOLA, ANGELO JOSEPH, "DIFFERENTIAL EFFECTS OF CHRONOLOGICAL AGE, INCENTIVE PREFERENCE, AND TYPE OF TASK ON THE CENTRAL AND INCIDENTAL LEARNING OF CHILDREN" (1981). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8119766.