The Synergy of Passive and Active Learning Modes in Adaptive Perceptual Learning

AbstractAdaptive learning systems that generate spacing intervals based on learner performance enhance learning efficiency and retention (Mettler, Massey & Kellman, 2016). Recent research in factual learning suggests that initial blocks of passive trials, where learners observe correct answers without overtly responding, produce greater learning than passive or active trials alone (Mettler, Massey, Burke, Garrigan & Kellman, 2018). Here we tested whether this passive + active advantage generalizes beyond factual learning to perceptual learning. Participants studied and classified images of butterfly genera using either: 1) Passive Only presentations, 2) Passive Initial Blocks followed by active, adaptive scheduling, 3) Passive Initial Category Exemplar followed by active, adaptive scheduling, or 4) Active Only learning. We found an advantage for combinations of active and passive presentations over Passive Only or Active Only presentations. Passive trials presented in initial blocks showed the best performance, paralleling earlier findings in factual learning. Combining active and passive learning produces greater learning gains than either alone, and these effects occur for diverse forms of learning, including perceptual learning.

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