Léon Harvey and John R. Anderson

John R. Anderson
Department of Psychology
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, Pa 15213


Declarative transfer from one domain to another can be observed in a systematic decrease in the times spent in reading an instructional text and processing help during problem solving times. Two experiments, done in the programming domain, tested the hypothesis that the subjects who have been introduced to a first programming language, develop a representation of basic programming concepts that helps them integrate new declarative knowledge from a second programming language. It is shown that the effect on reading is greater for the pages that are conceptually close across texts, and for subjects who have fully mastered the basic concepts in the first language. A regression model of reading shows an effect on processes that are responsible for the analysis of novel words and examples, while general strategic reading processes remain unaffected. The increase reading speed is not accompanied by a greater understanding of the text. Effects of a common programming interface and transfer of procedural knowledge appear to be negligible on the kind of problems considered. This study supports the distinction between procedural and declarative transfer.

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