The goal of the present research was to examine the potential of a learner-oriented approach to improving older adults’ performance in tasks that are similar to real-life situations that require strategic deployment of cognitive resources. A crucial element of this approach involves encouraging older adults to explicitly analyze tasks to consider how to adapt trained skills to a new task context. In an earlier study, a specialist-directed intervention produced training gains and transfer to some untrained memory tasks.
In the present study, older adults received a manual instructing them about principles of task analysis, two memory strategies, and strategy adaptation. Self-guided strategy-adaption training involved practicing some memory tasks as well as instructions on how the trained skills could be applied to new tasks that were not practiced. The criterion tasks involved practice tasks, non-practiced tasks that were discussed in the manual, and transfer tasks that were never mentioned in the manual. Two of the tests were from the Everyday Cognition Battery (inductive reasoning and working memory).
As compared to a waiting-list control group, older adults assigned to self-guided strategy-adaption training showed memory improvements on tasks that were practiced or discussed during training. Most important, the learner-oriented approach produced transfer to the everyday tasks.
Our findings show the potential of instructing task appraisal processes as a basis for fostering transfer, including improving older adults’ performance in simulated everyday tasks.
Bottiroli, S., Cavallini, E., Dunlosky, J., Vecchi, T., & Hertzog, C. (2017). Self-guided strategy-adaption training for older adults: transfer effects to everyday tasks. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics.