Task Goals Structure Conceptual Acquisition

AbstractThe purpose of this study is to explore the role goals play in concept acquisition. Goals motivate and shape our interactions with items, so it stands to reason that they also impact the learning that occurs as a result of those interactions. There is abundant evidence that goals orient us to particular information about the items we encounter. A more speculative claim is that goals play a more integral role in the acquired concept in that they also help to structure and cohere the acquired conceptual knowledge. Using a novel concept learning paradigm, we examined participant knowledge of attributes of the items they interacted with in an experimental task. We found evidence that the interaction of the goal with the learning situation impacted the centrality of the attribute information within their conceptual knowledge. These results support the idea that conceptual knowledge is organized in terms of goals active during learning.

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