Offline Improvement in Learning to Read a Novel Orthography Depends on Direct Letter Instruction

Cognitive Science 36 (5):896-918 (2012)
Abstract
Improvement in performance after the end of the training session, termed “Offline improvement,” has been shown in procedural learning tasks. We examined whether Offline improvement in learning a novel orthography depends on the type of reading instruction. Forty-eight adults received multisession training in reading nonsense words, written in an artificial script. Participants were trained in one of three conditions: alphabetical words preceded by direct letter instruction (Letter-Alph); alphabetical words with whole-word instruction (Word-Alph); and nonalphabetical (arbitrary) words with whole-word instruction (Word-Arb). Offline improvement was found only for the Letter-Alph group. Moreover, correlation with a standardized measure of word reading ability showed that good readers trained in the Letter-Alph group exhibit greater Offline improvement, whereas good readers trained in the Word-Arb group showed greater Within-session improvement during training. These results suggest that different consolidation processes and learning mechanisms were involved in each group. We argue that providing a short block of direct letter instruction prior to training resulted in increased involvement of procedural learning mechanisms during training
Keywords Artificial language  Declarative memory  Procedural learning  Transfer  Reading acquisition  Consolidation
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