Infant transfer of learning across 2D/3D dimensions : a touch screen paradigm
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Georgetown University, 2010.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. Learning from television and touch screens is one specific kind of transfer of learning. In this context, transfer involves relating information between a 2-dimensional (2D) and 3-dimensional (3D) source. Prior research has shown that infants exhibit a transfer deficit, that is, they learn less from 2D sources in comparison to learning from face-to-face interactions with real objects. Researchers examining this deficit have traditionally used television to present 2D stimuli then assessed infants' transfer of learning with corresponding 3D objects. For this dissertation, a touch screen was used to examine infants' ability to transfer actions in a new direction from 3D to 2D as well as from 2D to 3D as in prior studies. Experiments 1 and 2 combine touch screen technology with the imitation paradigm. The aim of Experiment 1 was to establish the touch screen task as a viable method for examining imitation from 2D and 3D surfaces and across transfer (2D to 3D and 3D to 2D) dimensions. Infants produced significantly fewer target actions in the transfer dimension conditions compared to their within-dimension condition (2D to 2D or 3D to 3D) performance. Based on Hayne's (2006) representational flexibility account, the aim of Experiment 2 was to increase the number of available retrieval cues by adding verbal labels during encoding and retrieval in the transfer conditions used in Experiment 1. Language cues did not augment infant imitation scores to above original transfer performance levels. In a third study, the touch screen task was adapted into a semi-naturalistic teaching task to examine the role of maternal teaching and the context in which transfer of learning between 2D and 3D occurs. Infant transfer performance substantially increased compared to infant transfer performance in Experiments 1 and 2. Level of scaffolding was the only significant predictor of infant transfer success. Taken together, the results from this dissertation demonstrate that transfer of learning between 3D and 2D is cognitively challenging for infants. Infants' representational system is fragile and can be easily overloaded; however infant transfer of learning can be improved through maternal scaffolding.
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