Date of Award

Spring 1984

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Committee Director

Ben B. Morgan

Committee Member

Glynn D. Coates

Committee Member

Albert Glickman


The present study investigated the effects of dual-task practice and the variety of problems solved during practice on (a) the acquisition of procedural and declarative skills and the development of concurrent-task skills, and (b) the utilization and maintenance of two types of strategies. Strategies were defined as the use of different mixes of skills pertaining to procedures and specific declarative solutions. Two tasks--mental arithmetic and trigrams--were used to examine problem-solving skills and strategies both immediately following practice and again under delayed conditions. Eighty subjects were randomly assigned to one of four practice conditions by factorially combining practice mode (single- or dual-task) with variety (low and high).

Solution times and errors in solving two kinds of problems--those repeated during practice (old) and novel problems (new)--were tested under single-, dual-, and triple-task conditions directly after practice. The results of the analysis indicated that the variety of problems solved during practice influenced the kinds of skills and strategies employed in solving the problems in both tasks. The pattern of results supported the hypothesis that after low-variety practice subjects used a combination of declarative and procedural skills while after high-variety practice all problems were solved procedurally. In addition, dual-task skills facilitated transfer to concurrent-task test conditions, as expected. Concurrent-task skills also were found to moderate the effects of variety in strategy utilization.

The retention of skills was investigated by retesting the subjects 1, 2, 3, or 5 days after the immediate transfer session. Results suggested that the effects of the retention interval were limited to the trigram task. The analyses across levels of retention further suggested that performance strategies continued to be utilized as a function of the variety of practice. In addition the trigram results suggested that optimal retention of skills occurred when either declarative or dual-task skills, but not both, were practiced initially.


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