This study provides a preliminary analysis of how the techniques of fluency training can be combined with systematic concept instruction to improve the learning of complex verbal concepts. Fluency techniques, which require the learner to respond accurately at high rates, have typically focused on definition learning when teaching concepts. Instructional psychologists, however, recommend multiple exemplar training for conceptual instruction. To examine this issue, 41 undergraduate students completed a computer-based instructional module on logical fallacies. Participants were assigned to one of four groups, with the modules for each group differing only in the type of practice provided—either fluency or practice with either examples or definitions. Examination of posttest scores revealed significantly higher scores for participants in the examples groups than those in the definitions groups, but low experimental power prevented a clear conclusion to be drawn about differences between the fluency and practice groups. Implications of results and several methodological issues relevant to this area of research are discussed.
The purpose of this study was to compare traditional classification training for a set of abstract concepts with multiple relations training consisting of inference practice and the use of a content diagram. To examine this, 200 undergraduate and graduate psychology students completed a Web-based tutorial covering the abstract concepts of a psychological theory of language and cognition. All participants received the same core instructional content and practice activities varied by experimental condition: some participants received classification training, some received multiple-relations training, some received a combination of both, and some received neither. Performance on a posttest with three subsections was evaluated. Participants who received classification training were significantly better at identifying new instances of the concepts than participants who did not. Neither classification training nor multiple-relations training had a significant effect on ability to identify concept definitions or answer application questions. Implications for the development of instruction for abstract concepts are discussed.