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Age Differences in Children's Performance on Measures of Component Selection and Incidental Learning NICHD

Hale, Gordon A.; Taweel, Suzanne S.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), Age Differences, Attention, Incidental Learning, Responses, Selection


Children of ages 5 and 8 years were given one of three learning tasks: (a) a component selection problem, in which two stimulus components were redundant and (b) two incidental learning tasks, in which one component of the stimulus was task-relevant and the other was incidental. A posttest measuring the children's recall for information about each component separately was assumed to reflect the degree of attention directed to each component during learning. Attention to the nondominant component was found to increase with age when this feature was redundant with the dominant component and could thus serve as a second functional cue (component selection task), but not when it was incidental. These results suggest a developmental increase in the flexibility of attention development, as the tendency for children to excerise selective attention varies with the requirement of the test. (Author) (18pp.)

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