Attending to Action at Your Own Pace: Benefits for Knowledge Acquisition?
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Past research has established that children typically learn better from live demonstrations than from 2-dimensional sources of information like video. The current dissertation investigated the efficacy of a new form of 2-dimensional learning medium, specifically the self-paced slideshow, where children advance through slides of an unfolding action sequence at their own pace. The primary purpose of this dissertation was to test whether the "video deficit effect" extends to the self-paced slideshow. In Experiment 1, children saw demonstrations of novel event sequences either live, via a video, or by advancing through a self-paced slideshow. They were then tested on their ability to perform the sequences, as well as their verbal memory for the action. Individual difference measures were also collected to provide some insight into how children's inhibitory control, theory of mind skills, and verbal ability related to their performance. Findings suggest that all children showed learning, in that children across the three learning media outperformed their peers in a no demonstration control group. In line with past work, children in the live condition outperformed those in the video and self-paced slideshow conditions at reproducing the target actions. However, children's memory did not differ across conditions. To further explore the self-paced slideshow, Experiment 2 directly compared learning from the self-paced slideshow to learning from a video. Two alterations were made to the slideshow: the method of extracting slides was altered to create a more natural flow of action, and the content of the slides was altered to help children focus more on the object than the person. Children's performance differed little between conditions, with the exception of children reproducing fewer actions in the slideshow condition on two (of four) toys. Ultimately, this dissertation documented that the video deficit effect extends to the self-paced slideshow: live demonstration produces superior learning for children. Future work should investigate at what age the self-paced slideshow might become a useful learning medium as well as how to enhance children's learning from 2D sources given the increasing role that they play in daily life.