A Comparison of Imitation Strategies in Observational Learning of Action Patterns

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The effects of different arrangements of demonstration and imitation of modeled actions on the learning of the 26 handshapes of the American manual alphabet were investigated. A concurrent group (N = 16), which imitated handshapes concurrently with their demonstration, was compared with a delayed group (N = 16), which delayed imitation until 3 handshapes had been displayed, and with a combination group (N = 16), which practiced under a combination of concurrent conditions early in acquisition and delayed conditions later in acquisition. Following acquisition, learning was assessed by means of immediate and long-term recall and recognition tests. The delayed group was superior to the concurrent group in long-term serial recall and in immediate and long-term recognition of 3-letter sequences (in nonserial order); the performance of the combination group was between those of the delayed and concurrent groups. Therefore, delaying imitation in acquisition required subjects to expend more cognitive effort to retain and produce handshapes when requested than did concurrent imitation. This was beneficial to development of task knowledge that could be relied on for postacquisition recall and recognition of handshapes. © 1996 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

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