On the Link between Fact Learning and General Cognitive Ability


Adaptive fact learning systems have been developed to make optimal use of testing and spacing effects by taking into account individual differences in learning efficiency. Measures derived from these systems, capturing the individual differences, predict later performance in similar and different fact learning tasks. Additionally, there is a rich body of literature showing that individual differences in general cognitive ability or working memory capacity can predict scores on achievement tests. If these measures also influence fact learning, incorporating them might further enhance adaptive systems. However, here we provide evidence that performance during fact learning is neither related to working memory capacity nor general cognitive ability. This means that the individual differences captured by our adaptive learning system encapsulate characteristics of learners that are independent of their general cognitive ability. Consequently, adaptive learning methods should focus primarily on memory-related processes.

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