Component fluency in a problem-solving context

R. A. Carlson, M. A. Sullivan, W. Schneider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Theories of cognitive skill suggest two hypotheses about component task practice. First, component practice increases the speed of executing component skills during problem solving. Second, component practice produces component skills that behave as encapsulated subroutines. Eight college students practiced making judgments about digital logic gates for 1360 trials. At two points during practice, they solved circuit problems that did or did not require logic gate knowledge. Time per move declined with problem-solving practice, but the effects of component training were ambiguous. However, teaching circuit functions did increase problem-solving speed. In a second experiment conducted at the end of practice, the same subjects solved problems designed to test whether the logic gate judgments acted as encapsulated subroutines. Component judgments were slower in the problem-solving context than in isolation, disconfirming this hypothesis. Taken together, the results indicate the need for a more detailed theoretical rationale for component drill.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-502
Number of pages14
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1989

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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