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Children's Component Selection With Varying Degrees of Training

Hale, Gordon A.; Taweel, Suzanne S.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Office of Education, Children, Discrimination Learning, Preschool Children, Visual Stimuli


A component selection measure developed by Hale and Morgan (1971) was used to determine children's tendency to exercise selective attention. This tendency was assessed at six different levels of training, ranging from undertraining to overtraining, and was examined at each of three ages--4 (N=116), 8 (N=216), and 12 (N=104). In the learning phase, subjects learned the spatial position of each of several stimuli differing in shape and color; the posttest phase determined the degree of importance each subject gave to the two stimulus components during learning. The results indicated that as the subjects learned the task, they maintained a relatively wide focus of attention, acquiring information about both components. This finding is contrary to the James and Green (1967) model which indicated that children's attention did not become more selective as learning proceeded to criterion, and, also contrary to the model, overtraining did not generally tend to "broaden" attention as the subjects acquired little stimulus information beyond the point at which criterion had been reached. (Author/JS) (24pp.)

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