A study of the effects of cognitive training on the ability of adolescent educable mentally retarded students to learn and retain vocational competencies

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Virginia Tech

Compared with students with normal mental abilities, the mentally retarded student in a competency-based vocational education program generally experience much more difficulty learning and retaining the required competencies. Studies have shown that persons who are mentally retarded do not spontaneously apply efficient learning strategies as do persons with average mental abilities. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of remedial cognitive training on the abilities of adolescent mildly retarded students to learn and retain occupational competencies and to determine the effects of selected cognitive teaching strategies on learning and retention.

The sample used in the study consisted of 40 subjects randomly selected from approximately 90 tenth grade EMR students of Richmond Public Schools (Virginia). These students entered vocational education training for the first time at the beginning of the 1982-83 school term. The 40 students were further assigned to four subgroups of 10 persons each. The three experimental groups and one control group were subjected to the following treatments: cognitive training plus cognitive teaching (group I), cognitive training plus traditional teaching (group II), no training but cognitive teaching (group III), or no training but traditional teaching (group IV).

Pretests and posttests were used to measure knowledge of learning strategies and learning and retention of vocational competencies among the subjects. From these scores, the means and standard deviations were computed for each group and one-way analyses of variance were used to test the hypotheses of interest. The analyses resulting in significant F ratios were then followed by the Scheffé multiple comparison method.

It was concluded that the EMR students who had been cognitively trained were superior in their knowledge of learning strategies over those who had not been trained. In the area of skill learning, it was found that cognitive training plus cognitive teaching was significantly more effective than traditional teaching and without cognitive training. Information learning proved superior for EMR subjects provided with cognitive training plus traditional teaching over those provided no training and cognitive teaching. The cognitive training and/or cognitive teaching was not effective in altering significantly learning retention among these subjects in either of the three categories of skill, information or recall of tools and procedures.

adolescent, cognitive training, ability