Individual differences in studying and problem-solving

Henry August Albeke, Fordham University


Two studies were conducted to determine whether prior instruction of the criterion task facilitates a student's utilization of important information contained in written material. The studies also indicated whether the effect of prior instruction would be greater among successful learners or unsuccessful learners. In Study 1, 20 successful students (upper quartile of the class) and 20 unsuccessful students (lowest quartile of the class) were assigned randomly to the treatment (prior instruction of criterion task) or control (no prior instruction group). All students read two passages containing 36 statements each and rated the importance of the statements. The passages concerned the requirements of rice growing and the climatic conditions of a particular region. Prior to reading the passages, half of the students were given prior instruction of the criterion task to determine if rice could be grown in that region. The results of Study 1 indicated that the statements in each passage were rated differentially important, and that the sentences rated most important varied between groups with and without prior instruction. In Study 2, a separate group of similar subjects read the two passages validated in Study 1 and used the information to determine if the region was suitable for cultivating rice. Subjects justified their responses to the question by referring to data contained in the passages. Judges determined which statements in the passages were used by each student to solve the problem. Based on Study 1, scores were developed for each student representing the utilization of important information in the task. Analyses indicated that prior instruction of the criterion task was associated with higher scores for utilization of important information. This was particularly true among successful learners. Results were interpreted as indicating the desirability of providing students with knowledge of criterion task demands prior to their study. In addition, it was recommended that unsuccessful students, in particular, be given training in developing and applying problem-solving strategies.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Psychology

Recommended Citation

Albeke, Henry August, "Individual differences in studying and problem-solving" (1992). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9328426.