The effect of constant versus varied training on transfer in a cognitive skill learning task: The case of the Tower of Hanoi Puzzle

Eli Vakil, Eyal Heled

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

The differential effect of constant versus variable training conditions on acquisition and transfer has been demonstrated primarily in perceptual motor skills. In the present study, this effect was tested on 84 young adults using a cognitive skill learning task - the Tower of Hanoi Puzzle. The advantage of this task is that it allows testing the effect of the two training protocols on transfer by separately analyzing accuracy of the task solution, speed of reaching the correct solution and time planning before beginning to solve the task. Participants were divided into two groups. The "constant training" group practiced the task for 10 consecutive trials with identical configuration in terms of the "start" and "end" peg; followed by an 11th trial with a new configuration of the task (i.e., transfer). The "varied training" group practiced for 10 consecutive trials with different configurations, followed by a new configuration. As predicted, the constant training group yielded a higher cost when transferring to a new configuration of the task compared with the varied training group. These findings support the notion that varied training leads to the development of a schematic representation of the task solution, thus transfer is facilitated. These results have important implications in terms of the optimal learning conditions for adults while coping with cognitive problem-solving tasks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-214
Number of pages8
JournalLearning and Individual Differences
Volume47
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Inc.

Keywords

  • Constant training
  • Skill learning
  • Tower of Hanoi Puzzle
  • Transfer
  • Varied training

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