Cognitive structures, strategies and instruction
This thesis is organised into three parts. In Part 1 relevant
literature is reviewed and three critical components in the development
of a cognitive approach to instruction are identified. These three
components are considered to be the structure of the subject-matter,
the learners cognitive structures, and the learner's cognitive
strategies which act as control and transfer devices between the
instructional materials and the learner's cognitive structures.
Six experiments are described in Part 2 which is divided into two
methodologically distinct units. The three experiments of Unit 1
examined how learning from materials constructed from concept name
by concept attribute matrices is influenced by learner or experimenter
controlled sequence and organisation. The results suggested that the
relationships between input organisation, output organisation and
recall are complex and highlighted the importance of investigating
organisational strategies at both acquisition and recall. The role
of subjects previously acquired knowledge and skills in relation to
the instructional material was considered to be an important factor.
The three experiments of Unit 2 utilised a "diagramming relationships
methodology" which was devised as one means of investigating the
processes by which new information is assimilated into an individual's
cognitive structure. The methodology was found to be useful in
identifying cognitive strategies related to successful task performance.
The results suggested that errors could be minimised and comprehension
improved on the diagramming relationships task by instructing subjects
in ways which induced successful processing operations.
Part 3 of this thesis highlights salient issues raised by the
experimental work within the framework outlined in Part 1 and
discusses potential implications for future theoretical developments