THE EFFECT OF BISENSORY STIMULATION ON PAIRED ASSOCIATE LEARNING
SCHWARTZ, GERALD S.
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The purpose of the present study was to examine the effect of a bisensory presentation, utilizing the visual and auditory modalities, on a paired associate learning task. The controversy between those who suggest that such a presentation will cause greater learning and those who suggest that such a presentation will have no effect or will cause sensory overloading prompted the present study. A review of the literature showed that there are conflicting and often inconclusive studies. The methodological problems relating to this area of research were discussed.;The study used a sample of 60 boys ranging in age from 11 years 0 months to 13 years who were attending a private school in Brooklyn. Subjects were screened to eliminate children with below average achievement and children with deficits in hearing and vision.;The task consisted of paired associate nonsense syllables. Each subject was tested individually under three different conditions: (1) a visual presentation in which both the stimulus and response terms were presented visually; (2) an auditory presentation in which both the stimulus and response terms were presented auditorily; (3) a bimodal presentation in which both the stimulus and response terms were simultaneously presented visually and auditorily. The total time for each presentation was equal. The 60 subjects were randomly divided into six groups and the order of presentation was different for each group. Three sample pairs were presented before each modality. The subjects responded by selecting the response term and writing it alongside the stimulus term.;Analysis of the data showed that there was no significant difference in the scores due to order of presentation. There was a significant difference due to the modes of presentation. As a group, performance under the bimodal presentation was significantly higher than performance under either the visual or auditory presentation. There was no significant difference between the visual and auditory presentations. The performance of the group under the bimodal presentation was then shown to be significantly higher than the score of the group which was composed of each subject's best unimodal presentation, regardless of modality. This was interpreted to show that the gain in the bisensory presentation is due to concurrent stimulation and not merely due to the choice of modalities.;However, a sizable minority (33%) of the sample performed best with a unimodal presentation. The amount of gain for this group with a unimodal presentation was found to be not significantly different from the amount of gain demonstrated with the bimodal presentation for those who performed best with a bimodal presentation. This suggests that bimodal presentations affect different people in different ways. These two groups, namely, those that are helped and those that are hindered by bimodal presentations, were not distinguishable in terms of age, reading achievement, or best unimodal presentation.;Suggestions for further research included expansions of the present study to increase the generalizability of the findings. This includes expansions in terms of the sample, the modalities involved, the type of material to be learned, and the time span between the presentation and the recall test. Other suggestions involved greater variations of the present study such as providing bimodal cues in the testing situation as well as in the learning situation, requiring the subjects to provide the auditory stimulation by reading aloud, and having the added stimulation just serve as a call to attention instead of actually providing a second presentation of the material. Finally, further research may investigate what characteristics distinguish which people gain and which people are hindered by bimodal presentations.
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