Understanding the role of presentation pace in learning a time-sensitive task

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Hickman, Jamye M.
Rogers, Wendy A.
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In developing training for new technologies, designers encounter many options in an effort to increase system knowledge and produce effective system usage. Technological advancements do, however, provide the opportunity for more dynamic and interactive training methods. Moreover, technology may require the acquisition of time-sensitive skills. Many technologies have automatic shut-off or low-power functions, like the shutting off the backlight of a cell phone after 30 seconds. These system functions may lead to errors for novice users or for infrequent tasks. To develop effective training for time-sensitive tasks, the learner needs instruction on how to accurately perform the task at a particular pace. One potentially fruitful avenue of exploration is to provide the learning goal during training through the pace of the training materials. This presentation pace is the rate at which training tasks are presented to the learner during training; this pace may be fixed or self-regulated. The goal of the current study was to examine the role of presentation in learning a complex technology using four types of pacing for younger adults (Experiment 1) and older adults (Experiment 2). The results of this study show there seems to be a benefit of self-paced training for younger adults and older adults. These findings provide insight into future studies investigating the underlying mechanisms related to the benefits of self-paced training. Additionally, the findings have implications for the development of training paradigms for time-sensitive technologies.
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