Cognitive Modeling of Learning Abilities

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This paper outlines some of the research activities underway as part of the Air Force's Learning Abilities Measurement Program (LAMP). The major goal of the project is to devise new models. As an approach to this ambitious undertaking, we have divided the activities of the project into two categories. The first category is concerned with identifying fundamental learning abilities by determining how learners differ in their abilities to think, remember, solve problems, and acquire knowledge and skills. From research already completed, we have established a four-source framework that assumes that observed learner differences are due to differences in processing speed; processing capacity; and the breadth, extent, and accessibility of conceptual knowledge and procedural and strategic skills. The second category of research activities is concerned with validating new models of learning abilities. To do this, we are building a number of computerized intelligent tutoring systems that serve as mini-courses in technical areas such as computer programming and electronics troubleshooting. A major objective of this part of the program is to develop principles for producing indicators of student learning progress and achievement. These indicators will serve as the learning outcome measures against which newly developed learning abilities will be evaluated in future validation studies. Keywords: Cognition, Computerized testing, Learning.

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