The Application of Mental Rehearsal to Cognitive Domains

Year: 1998

Author: Cooper, Graham

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Mental rehearsal, also termed mental practice, may improve learning. Many studies undertaken within the context of sports psychology have reported favourable results, with some finding mental practice to be as effective as physical practice for improving performance. Few studies, however, have attempted to apply mental rehearsal techniques to academic materials which are primarily cognitive in nature. It has previously been suggested that mental rehearsal operates by focusing the learners' attention on the schemas associated with the task in question. On this basis, cognitive domains, which contain complex schemas, may be viewed as providing areas which could benefit most from the application of mental rehearsal techniques. To date however, there has been a lack of empirical research in purely cognitive domains. The series of experiments reported in this paper apply mental rehearsal techniques to the learning of a spread sheet application, a task which is essentially cognitive in nature. Results indicate that mental rehearsal may be more effective than either a conventional study strategy or an interactive learning strategy.