How can we promote generalization of novels concepts?


Conference Proceedings


Thibaut, J.P., Augier, L.




How can we promote generalization of novels concepts?

Journal / Livre / Conférence

The Future of Education Conference Proceedings 2011


One major issue in education is generalization. In many learning situations, participants do not generalize beyond the situations in which they were trained or generalize to situations that are quite similar to the training phase. The purpose of the present contribution is to study conditions that would promote generalization in new concept learning situations. When subjects are confronted with new stimuli and learn to categorize them according to a rule, they have to segment the stimuli into relevant features for categorization. Our central question is to address the question of “history of categorization” that is whether a simplified version will help children to generalize to perceptually more "complex" versions of the relevant features they would be unable to learn with no pre-training with the simpler version.
The results indicate that variability must be included in any model of concept learning. First, the probability that a relevant dimension will be discovered depends on the presence and the structure of the other dimensions (irrelevant) that compose the stimuli and, more specifically, that participate in the manifestation of the rule. Second, in order to understand whether or not a particular instance of a dimension will be discovered by children, one has to include the history of categorization of the participants [5]. More generally, we want to argue for a conception of learning which promotes comparisons between instances and which conceives generalization as a constructive process rather than as an automatic process.


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