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IN THE MIND'S EYE: ENHANCING HUMAN PERFORMANCE 3 Optimizing Long-Term Retention and Transfer This chapter considers training conditions that do or do not facilitate posttraining performance. We focus on two aspects of posttraining performance: its durability (long-term retention), that is, the extent to which a training program yields a level of learning that supports performance after long periods of disuse; and its flexibility (transfer), that is, the extent to which a training program prepares a learner to perform under real-world conditions that may differ from those present during training. Our primary concerns are the training of adults rather than children and the training of cognitive-motor procedural skills, such as programming a computer, repairing a mechanical or electronic device, hitting a serve in tennis, parachuting out of an airplane, or receiving and transmitting Morse Code, rather than on classroom learning. Focusing on the training of adults and on procedural tasks helps to limit the scope of this chapter, but covering all aspects of training so defined in one chapter is still prohibitive; a broader view is provided in the recent book by Farr (1987). Among the issues we do not address are individual differences among learners, instructor variables, such as motivating trainees and improving instructor-trainee rapport, and technological innovations, such as computer-based instruction and the use of simulators; those issues are addressed in recent reviews by Montague (1988) and Walberg (1990), as well as in Farr (1987). We also do not focus on how the individual components of complex tasks should be integrated. (Chapter 4 takes a broader view of complex cognitive tasks and includes a discussion of some of the ways computers can assist training.) Even with our mission defined more narrowly, the relevant
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IN THE MIND'S EYE: ENHANCING HUMAN PERFORMANCE literature deriving from basic and applied research in education, psychology, cognitive science, physical education, and sports psychology is enormous: thus, the references we cite should be viewed as representative, not exhaustive. Procedural knowledge is now commonly distinguished from declarative knowledge (Winograd, 1975). Declarative knowledge is knowledge of facts or static information (e.g., in what year did Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs?), and it, in turn, is typically subdivided into episodic and semantic knowledge: episodic knowledge is context dependent, such as knowing what you ate for lunch today; semantic knowledge is independent of context, such as knowing what Europeans typically eat for breakfast (see e.g., Tulving, 1985). Procedural knowledge is knowing how to execute the procedures necessary to perform a given task. Procedural knowledge underlies cognitive and motor skills (many of them automated), such as how to change a flat tire on a car, use a typewriter by touch, operate a computer, disassemble and reassemble a rifle, ride a bicycle, or play a game. Skills are acquired mainly by doing or practice and are not learned quickly. Retention of skills, or the lack thereof, is typically measured by the extent to which they can be performed, rather than by the extent to which they can be “recalled” per se. In fact, at high levels of skill, in which many of the procedural components of a skill become automatic, people become unable to describe in any detail what procedures they are carrying out in what order. A person may have to resort to consciously observing his or her own behavior, for example, to tell a friend how to ski or operate a standard-transmission automobile. It seems obvious that the major goal of any training program is to prepare trainees to perform effectively on a posttraining task in a real-world setting; achieving that goal, however, is complicated by several factors. First, what is observed by those responsible for training programs is, typically, the performances of trainees during the training process itself. Such performance is a highly imperfect index of the kind of learning, comprehension, or understanding that will sustain performance of the skill or knowledge over periods of disuse. Someone who meets high standards of performance at the end of training may fail to perform adequately some months later. Acquisition of a given skill during training also does not provide evidence that the learner will be able to perform in contexts that differ from the training context or on altered versions of the training task that may arise in real-world settings. The term “context” includes the task, practice conditions, and cognitive processing used by a trainee. The crux of the problem is that learning and performance are not the same. As we indicate at several points in this chapter, procedures that
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IN THE MIND'S EYE: ENHANCING HUMAN PERFORMANCE enhance performance during training may or may not enhance long-term retention and transfer to altered contexts; conversely, procedures that introduce difficulties for the learner and impair performance during training may foster durable and flexible posttraining skills (for some examples, see Schmidt and Bjork, 1992). In short, the goal is to have training programs that optimize learning—some relatively permanent change in the capacity for responding—but what is observed during training is performance localized in a given place and time. At a later time, in another place, the learner may perform quite differently and that performance is often at an inadequate level. The performance observed during training may be mediated by rote memory or cues specific to the training procedure rather than being indicative of any substantial learning or understanding. This problem is aggravated in training settings in which those who are responsible for training do not see the posttraining performance of the individuals they have trained. In such a setting, the instructor 's judgment as to the efficacy of different training procedures may be governed entirely by the tacit assumption that what yields high performance during training will yield high retention and transfer after training. In any organization in which the people responsible for the maintenance of critical skills and knowledge (refresher training, retraining, and so forth) are not the same people who are responsible for initial training—the military is such an organization—this inferential problem is going to be particularly troublesome. LONG-TERM RETENTION When one assesses posttraining performance on some task, the time interval from the end of training to the performance “test” can be varied, the task can be the same or an altered version of the training task, and the situational context can be similar to or different from the training context. Thus, someone trained to repair a certain type of pump in a nuclear power plant might attempt the first such actual repair many weeks or months after being trained, the pump may differ in certain respects from those encountered in training, and the repair may need to be executed under conditions of heat or other pressure that was not present during training. It is common to speak of retention when performance on the actual training task is assessed under posttraining conditions that are essentially the same as the training conditions. The term transfer is used when the posttraining task or setting differs from the training task or setting. For convenience, and to be compatible with the literature, we tend to follow that usage, but it is important to emphasize that retention so defined is a special case of transfer. That is, since the
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IN THE MIND'S EYE: ENHANCING HUMAN PERFORMANCE posttraining context will never match exactly the training context —if for no other reason than that the physical, emotional, and mental state of the learner will not be exactly the same—a test of retention can be viewed as a test of the transfer of training to contexts that appear to match the training context. In attempting to make our review compatible with the literature, in which the learning-performance distinction is often blurred or forgotten by researchers, we often need to speak of the level of “learning” achieved during training when level of performance would be the more correct expression. Terms such as “original learning” and “overlearning” are too common for us to avoid. In the next section particularly, when we discuss retention and transfer as a function of the level of original learning, we have tried to restrict our coverage to research situations in which it can be generally assumed that the performance levels measured as evidence of differing levels of learning do, indeed, denote just that. In later sections we deal with training situations in which performance during training is a poor measure of the level of learning achieved. Original Learning There is considerable agreement that the long-term retention of a task can be improved by increasing the level of original learning or mastery (e.g., Annett, 1979; Farr, 1987; Gardlin and Sitterley, 1972; Hagman and Rose, 1983; Hurlock and Montague, 1982; Naylor and Briggs, 1961; Schendel et al., 1978; Prophet, 1976). Indeed, the level of original learning for a task is the best single predictor of long-term retention for any given retention interval. Thus, any variable that can help trainees achieve a higher level of original learning or mastery of a task is capable of enhancing its retention (Hurlock and Montague, 1982). Most often, the training variable manipulated is the amount of practice on a task. Typically, this manipulation is accomplished by making the criterion of mastery more difficult to achieve so that more practice is needed to achieve the criterion. The additional practice needed to achieve the more difficult criterion produces a higher level of original learning, which enhances retention. For example, suppose a basketball coach is training young, novice players to shoot free throws (foul shots). He or she decides that all of the players should be able to make 25 out of 50 shots attempted by the end of 8 weeks of training, which is a reasonable criterion of mastery. But the coach could also make the criterion of mastery more difficult to achieve, requiring that the players be able to make 35 out of 50 shots, or, alternatively, that the players be able to make 25 out of 50 shots under more difficult conditions (after wind sprints, with simulated crowd noise, at alternate baskets, and so forth).
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IN THE MIND'S EYE: ENHANCING HUMAN PERFORMANCE In either case, more practice would be needed to achieve the more difficult criterion, but the additional practice would produce a higher level of original learning, which, in turn, should lead to greater retention. Setting the Criterion of Mastery Determining the appropriate level of original learning of a task that trainees must acquire in order to ensure the desired level of retention is not easy. How the level is selected—that is, how it is defined and assessed in terms of when the criterion of mastery is satisfactorily achieved—is quite arbitrary. Typically, the level is measured in terms of trials or time taken or number of errors committed until the criterion of mastery has been achieved. In most of the studies the committee reviewed, the criterion has been set either at a minimal mastery level, such as the first errorless performance trial, or at somewhat more than minimal level: for example, the three successive errorless trials required by Rigg and Gray (1981) in their research on U.S. Army enlisted personnel learning a procedural task. More recently, Jones (1985) suggested another way to determine when the level of original learning is satisfactorily achieved. He recommended that in addition to selecting some arbitrary criterion of mastery, the acquisition curve be used to determine when performance has stabilized at or above the criterion level. When the slope of the acquisition curve has begun to level off above the criterion level, learning would be considered complete. Automaticity The level of original learning can also be assessed in terms of the degree of automaticity of performance by using a dual-task paradigm, in which a secondary task is given to trainees to sample their spare cognitive capacity while they are learning the primary task (Shiffrin and Schneider, 1977; Schneider and Shiffrin, 1977; Schneider et al., 1984). An acceptable degree of automaticity and, hence, level of original learning, is the point at which neither the primary nor secondary task causes a performance decrement on the other. Although the dual-task paradigm is an acceptable method of assessing automaticity, it is not without its problems (see, e.g., Fendrich et al., 1988; Jonides et al., 1985). Theoretically, skills that require only a minimum of attention and cognitive capacity to perform are either completely or partly automatic, whereas skills that require cognitive resources and effort involve controlled processes. Schneider et al. (1984) define an automatic process as one that does not make use of general cognitive resources. In other words, capacity reductions do not influence automatic processing. Moreover, an
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IN THE MIND'S EYE: ENHANCING HUMAN PERFORMANCE automatic process is not subject to conscious control and, thus, can be executed in response to relevant external stimuli to which little attention is paid. Whether or not a skill is classified as automatic or controlled depends largely on the level of original learning. Many skills require controlled processes early in learning, but the processes become automatic with extensive practice and especially so if that practice contains a high degree of consistency. Practice consistency means that a trainee makes the same response each time a certain stimulus or class of stimuli is presented. The assumed explanation for this phenomena is that retention of a skill depends heavily on the extent to which a skill is automatic: that is, it can be performed without conscious awareness. The more automatic the skill, the greater the chance that the skill will be retained over nonuse periods without refresher training or rehearsal. It is important to note, however, that the automated parts of a skill that are acquired through practice (e.g., speed in soldering a joint) are expected to deteriorate during nonuse periods, while the automated parts of a skill that are less dependent on practice (e.g., encoding of temporal or spatial information) are not. Thus, for designing a skill maintenance program, more emphasis should be placed on the automated parts of the skill that are acquired through practice. Overlearning Regardless of the criterion of mastery selected for original learning, one way to enhance retention is to provide supplementary practice on a task after the criterion is achieved. In the previous basketball example, for instance, the coach could have the players continue to practice freethrow shooting even though they have achieved the criterion of making 35 out of 50 shots. This method may be interpreted as postmastery learning and is usually referred to in the literature as overlearning. Level of overlearning is usually expressed as simply the number of practice trials that trainees perform after the criterion of mastery has been achieved, or it is expressed in percentage terms —50 percent overlearning, for example, means that trainees receive half again the number of trials that they took to achieve the mastery criterion. The arbitrary nature of mastery and overlearning criteria can make it difficult to do certain comparisons across studies. A trial that is part of mastery for one study can be part of overlearning for another study. It depends on how one defines when original learning is complete, how one quantifies the level of original learning or mastery, and how one defines the level of overlearning. Those complications notwithstanding, it is clear that retention is better for overlearned tasks (e.g., Loftus, 1985; Schendel and Hagman,
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IN THE MIND'S EYE: ENHANCING HUMAN PERFORMANCE 1982; Slamecka and McElree, 1983). For enhancing retention, when to introduce the supplementary trials does not appear to be a critical factor; the level of overlearning is far more important than the time at which the supplementary trials are introduced (Schendel and Hagman, 1982). The literature also reveals, however, that providing overlearning trials reaches a point of diminishing returns (e.g., Bell, 1950; McGeoch and Irion, 1952; Melnick, 1971). In other words, increasing the number of overlearning trials may not produce proportionate increases in retention. Thus, although 100 percent overlearning may result in better retention than 50 percent, the additional gain that occurs may not be worth the additional time and practice. Task Cohesion and Organization In the literature on task retention, a given task is often classified as a discrete motor task, a continuous motor task, a procedural task, or a verbal task. Discrete tasks are characterized by a clearly defined beginning and end, such as responding to a signal by pressing a lever or saying a word. Continuous motor tasks require responding to information presented continuously—such as driving a car, which is a familiar example of a tracking task. Procedural tasks consist of a particular sequence of operations executed in the same way each time that the task is performed, such as disassembling and reassembling a rifle. Verbal tasks involve materials ranging from letters to nonsense syllables to words to meaningful prose, such as doing a crossword puzzle. Considerable attention has been devoted in training to procedural tasks, probably because they are so easily forgotten and are common in almost all work situations. Such tasks may vary on several dimensions, such as the number of steps they contain, the degree to which performing one step cues another, the freedom to vary from a fixed sequence, the extent of planning required to execute the task, and the number of decision points. Shields et al. (1979) found that the rate of forgetting for a procedural task is predominantly a function of the number of steps needed to perform the task. Moreover, they found that what tended to be forgotten most were the steps not cued by equipment or by the preceding steps. Consistent with such an argument, there is consensus in the literature that continuous motor tasks are better remembered than discrete or procedural tasks mainly because the former have a higher degree of inherent organization. Prophet (1976) proposed that the poor retention exhibited for certain procedural tasks—such as instrument flying—was due primarily to a low degree of internal organization or cohesiveness. Thus, regardless of the type of task, it appears that it is the degree of organiza-
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IN THE MIND'S EYE: ENHANCING HUMAN PERFORMANCE tion or cohesiveness of the task that is a principal determinant of the level of original learning that is achieved and the amount that is retained in the long term (e.g., Hagman and Rose, 1983; Hurlock and Montague, 1982; Prophet, 1976; Schendel et al., 1978). Enhancing Retention Distribution of Practice We have focused thus far on amount of practice during training, and have assumed that the level of performance achieved during training is a reasonable index of the level of learning achieved. For a fixed amount of practice, however, learning (as measured by a later retention test) depends on the temporal distribution of practice, and the nature of that dependency illustrates that performance during training is an unreliable indicator of learning. In general, massing of practice on some component of the to-be-learned task produces better performance in the short term (e.g., during training) but much poorer performance in the long term than does spacing of practice. In some cases, massed practice yields long-term recall performance less than one-half the level that results from spaced practice, and two massed practices are often not appreciably better than a single study trial (see, e.g., Glenberg, 1979; Glenberg and Lehmann, 1980; Melton, 1970; and Rothkopf and Coke, 1966). The so-called spacing effect—that practice sessions spaced in time are superior to massed practices in terms of long-term retention—is one of the most reliable phenomena in human experimental psychology. The effect is robust and appears to hold for verbal materials of all types and for motor skills (for reviews, see Crowder, 1976; Dempster, 1990; Lee and Genovese, 1988). A recent indication of how durable the advantages of spacing may be across truly long posttraining intervals was reported by Bahrick and Phelps (1987). They tested subjects' recall of English-Spanish word pairs 8 years after the original training phase. During the training phase, successive practice sessions were separated by 30 days, 1 day, or 0 days. The level of retention was highest for the 30-day spacing of study sessions, next highest for the 1-day spacing, and lowest for the 0-day spacing, with performance for those in the 30-day condition more than twice that for those in the 0-day condition. Given the benefits of spaced practice and the fact that those benefits have been known to researchers since the beginning of controlled research on human memory (Ebbinghaus, 1913), one would expect that spaced repetition would be a major component of modern programs of training and instruction. The fact that this not seem to be the case is
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IN THE MIND'S EYE: ENHANCING HUMAN PERFORMANCE something of a puzzle (see Bjork, 1979; Dempster, 1990). Part of the solution to that puzzle, of course, may be a point we have already stressed: during the training process itself, spaced practice may appear inferior to massed practice. Another factor in the apparent neglect of scientific findings on distribution of practice by those responsible for the design of training programs is time pressure: massed sessions take less total time than do spaced sessions. A study by Baddeley and Longman (1978), carried out for the British Post Office, illustrates the point. Given a new sorting system, which required postal workers to enter postcodes into a sorting machine using a standard typewriter keyboard, a large number of postal workers needed to be taught to type in a relatively short period of time. Baddeley and Longman examined four different training schedules, ranging from 1 hour of practice per day (spaced) to 4 hours of practice per day (massed). In terms of the learning curve—a plot of mean keystrokes per minute as a function of hours of practice—spaced practice was far more efficient than massed practice. To reach any given level of performance, however, it took the 1-hour-per-day group many more days than it took the 4-hours-per-day group, and the authors report that the former group was the least satisfied because the members felt they were falling behind the groups that were getting more practice per day. Thus, spaced practice produced much more efficient learning as a function of time on task, but took more days, which could certainly be a negative factor from a management standpoint. Fostering Understanding Just as the organization or cohesiveness of the components of a task makes it easier to learn and remember, so too does the organizing influence of understanding (Horton and Mills, 1984; Wertheim, 1985; Wetzel et al., 1983). In a story, independent or vaguely related occurrences are similar to steps of a procedural task that are not logically arranged and, hence, do not signal each other. When relevant organizing information is provided before reading a fragmented story, this information supplies a coherent structure within which to interpret more effectively the exact meaning of the story (Owens et al., 1979). Moreover, when this structure is also compatible with a trainee' s general knowledge of the world, recall is enhanced (Morris et al., 1979). There is considerable evidence suggesting that long-term retention of procedural tasks that are based on complex rules or principles can be enhanced by augmenting instruction with explanations or information designed to increase a learner's understanding of the to-be-learned tasks (Gentner, 1980, 1982; Smith and Goodman, 1984; Tourangeau and Sternberg,
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IN THE MIND'S EYE: ENHANCING HUMAN PERFORMANCE 1982; Kieras, 1981; Sturges et al., 1981). Although researchers differ to some extent on how they define explanations, it seems useful to categorize them as linear, structural, and functional (Stevens and Steinberg, 1981; Smith and Goodman, 1984). Linear explanations tell a trainee what to do—that is, what steps to follow and in what order. Structural explanations clarify how or why different task components belong together. Functional explanations inform the trainee about the cause-and-effect relationships among task components. In general, linear and structural explanations are used for static tasks, such as assembling a piece of equipment; functional explanations are used for dynamic tasks, such as operating a piece of equipment. In an examination of some of the literature dealing with the long-term retention of conceptual information and procedures inherent in expository prose as a function of structural explanations, Konoske and Ellis (1985:13) conclude that effective structural explanations “should include spatial and component-part information . . . as well as . . . goal statements. In addition, structural information should be communicated using text, schematics, graphs and illustrations, whenever possible.” In another study, Kieras and Boviar (1984) provided subjects in an experimental group with a “mental model” functional explanation of a new device that they were required to learn to operate: a mental model is an internal conceptual structure that corresponds to some aspect of the world (see, e.g., Gentner and Stevens, 1983). The subjects in the control group were not provided with any explanation; they had to learn the procedures solely by memorizing them. The researchers found that the functional model was more effective for enhancing retention one week after original learning than was learning by rote. They explained the superiority of the functional model by claiming that it was more pertinent to the operation of the device and could be used to cue operational procedures that might not otherwise have been retained. This finding and explanation supports Farr's (1987) position that the long-term retention of procedural knowledge and skills can be greatly enhanced if trainees understand why tasks must be performed in a particular order and way; the relationship of the parts to the whole task; and how new task information is related to what is already known. Farr (1987:78) claims: Understanding enables the trainee to (a) furnish himself with cues to help retrieval; (b) recognize the relationship of externally provided or system-provided cues to the sought-for-memory; and/or (c) rebuild or regenerate what was apparently forgotten by capitalizing on the conceptual/ideational scaffolding supplied by the understanding. Understanding also provides organizational coherence, thereby chunking and integrating the information into fewer knowledge-representation/retrieval structures, and decreasing the memory burden.
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IN THE MIND'S EYE: ENHANCING HUMAN PERFORMANCE Qualitative explanations, whether direct or analogical, can enhance retention by functioning as an instructional strategy to help a learner establish a meaningful relationship between new information and what is already known and understood. Evidence supporting this approach is provided by Mayer (1975), who used linear and structural explanations on a computer to enhance the learning and retention of software programming. There is considerable evidence to suggest that qualitative explanations help a learner develop models for making new knowledge fit more meaningfully into his or her existing knowledge structures by relating the new knowledge or skill to what has been previously learned and understood. The resulting effect is that the learning and retention of principle-and rule-based complex tasks are enhanced (Gentner, 1980, 1982; Kieras, 1981; Sturges et al., 1981; Tourangeau and Sternberg, 1982). In summary, qualitative explanations that promote understanding of a to-be-learned task are effective for enhancing retention, presumably because they enable a trainee to reach a higher level of original learning. (The role of such explanations is discussed further in the next chapter as an important part of training techniques that use the expert as a model to guide the trainee.) Involving the Learner An important generalization that emerges from several domains of basic and applied research is that long-term retention is enhanced when a learner is an active participant rather than a passive observer during the training process. The inefficiency of humans as passive receivers of information reflects a fundamental property of human memory: a person does not behave like a simple recording apparatus. The storage of new information is a matter of actively interpreting that new information is terms of what is already known, and the reliable retrieval of information from memory requires practicing the retrieval process. Several kinds of research support this generalization. Cooperative Learning, Peer Teaching, and Related Techniques In the field of education there is abundant evidence that participation by students accomplishes more learning than presentations by instructors. Cooperative learning procedures—in which small groups of students work together on a common problem or project—have been shown to enhance later performance (see, e.g., Johnson et al., 1981; Slavin, 1983) as do peer teaching, proctoring, and coaching programs, in which students participate in the teaching process on a one-on-one or group level (see, e.g., Goldschmid and Goldschmid, 1976; Kulik et al., 1980). In
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IN THE MIND'S EYE: ENHANCING HUMAN PERFORMANCE feeling from executing a golf swing; visual feedback comes from the outcome of an activity, as in the flight path of a golf ball. Augmented feedback, which is the focus of this section, is information performers would not ordinarily receive as a result of their actions. It is provided by a source external to the performers, such as an instructor, mirror, or videotape system. Augmented feedback can be verbal, as when an instructor explains how to correct an error, or it can be nonverbal, as when an instructor demonstrates how to make a correction or shows a videotape replay of an individual's performance. Typically, augmented feedback comparing the performance outcome with some goal outcome is referred to as knowledge of results; augmented feedback that characterizes the movement pattern itself is referred to as knowledge of performance. (For other descriptions of different types of feedback, see e.g., Schmidt, 1988:423-426). It has been known for some time that augmented feedback has a substantial effect on learning and performance during training (e.g., Thorndike, 1927). The focus here is on the influences that feedback has on retention and transfer during training. Much of the recent relevant research has been carried out in the motor domain (for reviews, see Newell, in press; Salmoni et al., 1984; Schmidt, in press). That research has challenged a commonly accepted generalization about augmented feedback that emerged from an abundance of prior research (see Bilodeau, 1966, 1969). That generalization is that any increase in feedback in training—in its immediacy, accuracy, or frequency—will improve learning and performance. Over the years, that generalization served as a basis for incorporating augmented feedback in the design of training programs and simulators. However, evidence from some recent studies in the motor domain (e.g., Schmidt et al., 1989; Winstein, 1988; Winstein and Schmidt, 1990) and several earlier studies in the verbal domain (e.g., Landauer and Bjork, 1978; Krumboltz and Weisman, 1962) raise questions about the validity of the generalization. Generally, these studies manipulated augmented feedback in training by giving it less frequently, such as on every fifth trial instead of every trial; or by giving it on every early trial but gradually eliminating it on later trials; or by giving it in summary form over a set of trials. Essentially, these studies reveal that training with augmented feedback that is given less frequently or in summary form produces poorer performance in training than feedback administered after every trial, but it produces better posttraining performance in retention and transfer. These results can be interpreted as indicating that frequent augmented feedback during training functions primarily to guide behavior toward the criterion (i.e., training) performance but that it also may create a dependency in which the feedback is relied on to guide behavior, and the learning
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IN THE MIND'S EYE: ENHANCING HUMAN PERFORMANCE needed to produce proficient posttraining performance in retention or transfer either does not occur or occurs only at a weak level. This dependency on frequent augmented feedback could be the result of the trainees' not using information-processing strategies that would ordinarily be used to learn the task in training if feedback were available less often. Without having adequately learned the task, the trainees are at a disadvantage for retention or transfer when there is no (or less) feedback. In summary, augmented feedback has traditionally been structured to bring about rapid acquisition of a task so that some criterion level of performance in training is achieved as quickly as possible. But the evidence now suggests that some of the commonly accepted ways in which augmented feedback has been manipulated to facilitate training performance are less than optimal for enhancing learning and posttraining performance. The evidence in this section (see also Schmidt and Bjork, 1992) indicates that the kind of feedback manipulations that enhance learning and posttraining performance actually decreases the rate at which performance improves during training. The common denominator of the training procedures reviewed above is that they teach processes that can be called on by a posttraining task at a later time, particularly if the posttraining task and setting differ from the training task and setting. That is, such procedures induce “transfer-appropriate processing” (Morris et al., 1977). In responding to the “difficulties” introduced by contextual interference, variability in the conditions of practice, reduced feedback, and so forth, the learner is taught to carry out processes that result in a more elaborated mental representation of the task—a representation that can, to some extent, be used in a different context. The learner is better prepared, so to speak, not only to perceive the similarities between the training task and the different versions of that task in posttraining contexts, but also better equipped to perform by having achieved the more generalized declarative and procedural knowledge demanded by that category of task. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS FOR TRAINING Measuring Learning and Performance The effectiveness of a training program should be measured not by the speed of acquisition of a task during training or by the level of performance reached at the end of training, but, rather, by a learner's performance in the posttraining tasks and real-world settings that are the target of training. Two important dimensions of posttraining performance are the ability to resist forgetting and interference over periods of disuse of a given skill and the ability to generalize training to contexts and tasks that
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IN THE MIND'S EYE: ENHANCING HUMAN PERFORMANCE differ in their surface characteristics from the training contexts or tasks. Depending on the relative priorities given to those two dimensions of posttraining performance, the optimal package of training components will differ somewhat. One general principle, however, is that tests of a learner's progress during training should, as much as possible, measure performance as it will be measured on the posttraining task(s) in the posttraining setting(s). Retention Given posttraining tasks and conditions that are identical or similar to the training tasks and conditions, posttraining performance is enhanced as the level of original learning is increased. That level can be increased by putting greater demands on the learner—making the criterion of mastery more difficult, for example, or requiring supplementary (postmastery) practice after the criterion has been reached. Introducing variations in the conditions and sequencing of practice, the immediate consequence of which is to degrade performance, may be a particularly promising way to increase the level of original learning, and, hence, posttraining retention. Skills that demand little attention or effort to perform are regarded as automatic; the more automatic a given skill, the higher the likelihood that the skill can be retained over nonuse periods without refresher training. Certain types of procedural tasks, however, tend to be easily forgotten, especially when their components have a low degree of internal organization or cohesiveness. The rate of forgetting of procedural tasks is a function of the number of steps needed to perform the task, and the steps most likely to be forgotten are those not cued by the equipment, environment, or preceding steps. Several instructional strategies to enhance the retention and transfer of procedural tasks can be derived from the research on learning: relating the knowledge to be learned to the relevant knowledge learners already have in memory; teaching techniques (e.g., mnemonics) that learners can use to provide their own elaborations; having the training regimen require repeated use of the knowledge to be learned; and providing for and encouraging the use and elaboration of acquired knowledge and skill during nonuse periods. In general, a learner should be an active participant, not a passive observer, during the training process. However well designed the initial training, refresher training may still be needed during posttraining periods of disuse in order to maintain a given level of knowledge and skill; refresher training can become less frequent over time. The training needs of retrainees are different from those of new trainees; relatively efficient, cost-effective techniques can be used to maintain a given level of original learning in retrainees.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: