SELECTIVE ATTENTION AND PROBLEM SOLVING: ACHIEVERS VS. UNDERACHIEVERS
KOCH, LYNN HURWITZ
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The present investigation evaluated the selective attention efficiency of third and fifth grade academic achievers and underachievers functioning within the normal limits of intelligence. In addition, the influence of stimulus dimensional preferences upon oddity task problem solving was assessed. It was predicted that academic underachievers would exhibit less efficient selective attention than achievers.;All subjects were administered a preference test to determine stimulus dimensional preferences for form or color. Subjects also received the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test to obtain level of intelligence. Subjects were administered 3 oddity learning tasks, i.e., Sets A, B and C. Subjects were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 dimensional assignment conditions: (1) preferred dimension is relevant during original learning (Set A) or (2) nonpreferred dimension is relevant during original learning (Set A). Following Set A, subjects received 2 extradimensional shifts: (1) Set B, wherein the irrelevant dimension during Set A becomes relevant and (2) Set C, wherein the irrelevant dimension during Set B becomes relevant.;Results indicate that level of academic achievement does not have a significant and consistent effect on oddity task performance. The performance of achievers was not significantly dissimilar to that of underachievers. The effect of increased grade level was also found to be nonsignificant. That is, the task performance of third graders was similar to that of fifth graders. In addition, stimulus dimensional preferences did not appear to significantly affect task performance.;It may be concluded that underachievers did not exhibit less efficient selective attention than achievers. The differentiation between ability and performance deficits was discussed in terms of academic achievement. It is suggested that performance and not ability deficits contribute to underachievers' inferior performance on school-related tasks. Furthermore, it is proposed that a passive, rather than active approach to learning reflects itself in the inefficient utilization of skills. Educational implications and suggestions for future research was discussed.
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