Benefits of Active Control of Study in Autistic Children

AbstractPrevious research with typically developing (TD) children and adults show an advantage of active control for episodic memory as compared to conditions lacking this control. The present study attempts to replicate this effect in autistic children. Six- to 12-year-old autistic children (n = 30) were instructed to remember as many of 64 presented objects as possible. For half of the materials presented, participants could decide the order and pacing of study (Active condition). For the other half, they passively observed the study decisions of a previous participant (Yoked condition). We found that recognition memory was more accurate for objects studied in the active as compared to the yoked condition, even after a week-long delay. The magnitude of the effect was comparable to that obtained in previous studies with TD children and adults, suggesting a strong robustness for the benefits of active learning. We discuss how pedagogical approaches may be encouraged to utilize self-directed learning strategies to promote inclusive learning.

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