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Children's Incidental Learning With Variation in Amount of Stimulus Exposure and Method of Assessment NICHD

Hale, Gordon A.; Alderman, Linda B.
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, Elementary School Students, Incidental Learning, Responses


Children aged 9 and 12 years performed a task requiring attention to the "relevant" component of two-component stimuli, after which they were given a test measuring either of two types of incidental learning: (a) recognition of the other, "incidental" component of each stimulus, or (b) association between the incidental and relevant components. In each of two experiments the principal variables were: (a) exposure time per trial of the initial, or central task (6 vs. 12 seconds), and (b) number of trials of the central task (8 vs. 16). Doubling the exposure time per trial improved central task performance to a greater degree at age 12 than age 9 but increased incidental learning only at age 9. Adolescents apparently redirect their attention from incidental to relevant stimulus information during the period of stimulus inspection on each trial. Doubling the number of trials, however, had little overall effect at either age level, indicating no developmental difference in the way children alter their manner of attention deployment acrosstrials. Recognition and association measures of incidental learning did not produce markedly different patterns of results. A 4-minute filled interval prior to the recognition test in Experiment 1 had little effect on the recognition scores. (23pp.)

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