The Impact of Need for Cognition and Self-Reference on Tutoring a Deductive Reasoning Skill

Report No. ARL-TR-6961
Authors: Anne M. Sinatra, Valerie K. Sims, Robert A. Sottilare
Date/Pages: June 2014; 32 pages
Abstract: Individual differences in the Need for Cognition (NFC) have been demonstrated to impact academic achievement, problem solving, and many classic psychology effects. The Self-Reference Effect (SRE) has been consistently shown to assist in recall and has been applied in education through context personalization of learning material. The current study examined if the SRE could aid learning for an applied deductive reasoning skill (completing a logic grid puzzle), and if an individual's NFC would impact learning outcomes. There were 134 participants that interacted with a computer-based tutoring system to teach them how to solve logic grid puzzles. In a logic grid puzzle, an individual uses deductive reasoning, and a set of clues to determine correct and incorrect information. During the tutorial, the puzzle and clues that the participants learned with either included their own name and the names of two close friends (self-reference), the names of three characters from the Harry Potter series, or names that were not expected to belong to the participants in the study. The names present in the tutorial interacted with NFC, so that those who were in the self-reference condition who were low NFC scored significantly lower on transfer performance than those that were high NFC. This suggests that individuals with high and low NFC may be impacted differently by self-reference, and it is important to consider its inclusion in instruction.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: June 1, 2014