Component practice and exposure to a problem-solving context

R. A. Carlson, B. H. Khoo, R. G. Elliott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The component fluency hypothesis suggests that practicing component skills can increase the fluency of target task performance. Three experiments examined boundary conditions for this hypothesis. College students practiced individual Boolean functions, then solved transfer problems using these functions. In Experiment 1, varying the amount of component practice had no detetable effect on problem solving fluency. In Experiment 2, subjects had 480 trials of component practice, with exposure to the target task after 0,240, or 480 trials. A fourth group had 192 trials of component practice. The results partially replicated Experiment 1: exposure to the target context after 240 trials produced the best final performance. Experiment 3 replicated Experiment 2, using a more sensitive target task and an additional group exposed to the target task after 120 trials of component practice. Results confirmed the importance of target task exposure. These findings suggest limits on the component fluency hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-286
Number of pages20
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1990

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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