The Effects of Cueing Learners to a Transfer Problem Prior to Instruction


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Virginia Tech


Prior research indicates that cueing or priming an individual prior to exposing them to a basic stimulus, either visual or verbal, will direct their perception and attention toward specific aspects of that stimulus. Furthermore, it suggests that those aspects of the stimulus that are attended or perceived may be related by the extent to which they afford the resolution of a problem, need, or state invoked by the cued phenomenon.

The purpose of this study was to determine whether similar results would be found using content of a greater scale. In other words, the purpose was to determine whether the same cueing and priming results found using words and phrases would apply using entire instructional modules. Specifically, this study attempted to determine whether cuing individuals to an expected outcome performance prior to instruction would cause them to focus on those parts of the instruction needed to succeed on the outcome performance. It was hypothesized that prior cuing would result in superior performance on a transfer problem. Similarly, it was also hypothesized that, since the learner's attention would be directed toward specific parts of the instruction to the neglect of others, overall memory retention would be diminished for learners that were cued.

To test these hypotheses, an experimental design was used with two overall groups: one receiving prior exposure to a transfer problem and one not. In addition, in order to avoid the possibility that any results could be generalized only to the subject matter being taught, two different subject domains were used: statistics and biology. Therefore, 115 undergraduate students were randomly assigned to one of four groups: (a) a statistics group receiving prior exposure to a transfer problem; (c) a statistics group without prior exposure to a transfer problem; (b) a biology group receiving prior exposure to a transfer problem; (d) a biology group without prior exposure to a transfer problem. Following instruction, each group received the transfer problem and recall test appropriate for the subject area covered during their instruction (statistics or biology).

The resulting data was analyzed using two ANOVAs, one for retention and one for transfer. Neither ANOVA yielded significant results. Hence, the results reported in this study do not support either hypothesis.



instructional sequence, cueing, transfer, priming