The Effect of Visual Variability on the Learning of Academic Concepts Purpose The purpose of this study was to identify effects of variability of visual input on development of conceptual representations of academic concepts for college-age students with normal language (NL) and those with language-learning disabilities (LLD). Method Students with NL (n = 11) and LLD (n = 11) ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 10, 2017
The Effect of Visual Variability on the Learning of Academic Concepts
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ashley Bourgoyne
    University of Arizona, Tucson
  • Mary Alt
    University of Arizona, Tucson
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Mary Alt: malt@email.arizona.edu
  • Editor: Sean Redmond
    Editor: Sean Redmond×
  • Associate Editor: Emma Hayiou-Thomas
    Associate Editor: Emma Hayiou-Thomas×
Article Information
Professional Issues & Training / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 10, 2017
The Effect of Visual Variability on the Learning of Academic Concepts
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2017, Vol. 60, 1568-1576. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-16-0271
History: Received June 25, 2016 , Revised September 13, 2016 , Accepted October 10, 2016
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2017, Vol. 60, 1568-1576. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-16-0271
History: Received June 25, 2016; Revised September 13, 2016; Accepted October 10, 2016

Purpose The purpose of this study was to identify effects of variability of visual input on development of conceptual representations of academic concepts for college-age students with normal language (NL) and those with language-learning disabilities (LLD).

Method Students with NL (n = 11) and LLD (n = 11) participated in a computer-based training for introductory biology course concepts. Participants were trained on half the concepts under a low-variability condition and half under a high-variability condition. Participants completed a posttest in which they were asked to identify and rate the accuracy of novel and trained visual representations of the concepts. We performed separate repeated measures analyses of variance to examine the accuracy of identification and ratings.

Results Participants were equally accurate on trained and novel items in the high-variability condition, but were less accurate on novel items only in the low-variability condition. The LLD group showed the same pattern as the NL group; they were just less accurate.

Conclusions Results indicated that high-variability visual input may facilitate the acquisition of academic concepts in college students with NL and LLD. High-variability visual input may be especially beneficial for generalization to novel representations of concepts. Implicit learning methods may be harnessed by college courses to provide students with basic conceptual knowledge when they are entering courses or beginning new units.

Acknowledgments
The work presented in this article was funded by the Graduate and Professional Student Council (GPSC) of the University of Arizona's Research and Project Grant (ReaP), awarded to Ashley Bourgoyne. We would also like to acknowledge all the members of the L4 Lab for their help with data collection.
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