Is study time allocated selectively to a region of proximal learning?

J Exp Psychol Gen. 2002 Sep;131(3):349-63. doi: 10.1037//0096-3445.131.3.349.


Five experiments investigated whether people allocate their study time according to the discrepancy reduction model (i.e., to the most difficult items; J. Dunlosky & C. Hertzog, 1998) or to items in their own region of proximal learning. Consistent with the latter hypothesis, as more time was given, people shifted toward studying more difficult items. Experts, whether college students or Grade 6 children, devoted their time to items that were more difficult than did novices. However, in a multiple-trials experiment, people regressed toward easier items on Trial 2 rather than shifting to more difficult items, perhaps because Trial 1 feedback revealed poor learning of the easiest items. These findings are in opposition to the discrepancy reduction model and support the region of proximal learning hypothesis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Mental Recall
  • Models, Psychological
  • Practice, Psychological
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Time Factors