checked but allowed to continue. In this way eventually the situation is
tied up with the correct response, inasmuch as the bond connecting the
two has been used more than any other. The selection of this correct
movement is not consciously done. It becomes consciously known only
after it is fairly well developed.
This type of learning might be illustrated roughly in this way. Sup-
l)ose 'P and O. who, blindfolded, are standing in the middle of a
recently harrowed field or one covered with snow. P determines just to
which part of the field he wants Q to go but he doesn't tell him. Q is
to discover this point by keeping walking, agreeing to change his direc-
tion whenever P calls out "change" and to keep going when P says
nothing. Now when Q starts he is as likely to go one way as another.
The consequence is that he will start a number of times and because
they are wrong P will so signal and Q will stop and start again. The
snow about the starting point will become all trampled because of these
starts and stops. But presently Q will hit upon the correct direction, P
will no longer signal to stop and Q will continue in the desired direction.
If he walks in a straight line he will presently reach the desired point.
If he doesn't P will signal to change and Q will then make a few stops
and starts, finally hitting on the correct direction again. In this way Q
will finally reach the desired point. He has reached it thru starting
many incorrect movements which were immediately checked and then
continuing the correct movement whenever hit upon. Now suppose P
and Q start over again. The process will be largely the same as before.
LESSON 12 55
But as it will be easier walking wherever Q has traveled before, Q
will be much more likely to continue in old paths than to make new ones.
And as the correct direction is the only one that continues for any dis-
tance Q will be aided by it much more than by the little short paths
that lead in the wrong direction. Still on the second trial Q's guidance
will come essentially from P's signals. As P and Q keep up this stunt,
the correct path will become better and better formed and Q will gradu-
ually come to rely on it more and more and to need P's signals less and
less. After a certain number of trials it is likely that Q could traverse
the distance with no mistakes, utilizing the well-worn pathway as a
guide instead of the signals of P.
All learning consists in forming a new situation-bond-responsc
combination. In forming such a new combination we must start with
some already formed combinations as a starting point. In the case of
drawing line 1-2 in the mirror we start with the combination of situa-
tion (direction toward one) and response (movement of hand toward
body), indicated in the diagram by Si and Ri. But the response Ri is
incorrect. Many other movements (R2-R8) are attempted. Each is
checked immediately. Finally movement R9 (which is to move hand
away from body) is commenced; it is not checked, and so is continued
until 2 is reached. The old customary habit, situation (direction toward
one) response (movement of hand toward body) has thus been modi-
fied so that we now have the new habit, i. e., situation (direction toward
one) response (movement of hand away from body). R9 has been
substituted for Ri as the response to Si. After a number of stars have
been drawn this new habit will then commence to function efficiently
It will do so because the bond connecting Si and R9 has reached a cer-
tain degree of strength.
Now the reason we "hit upon" the proper movements "accidentally"
and later become conscious of them is apparently that until a bond has
reached a certain degree of strength we are not capable of being
aware of it. When it finally has reached this degree of strength thru
use, we then suddenly realize just what we are doing. In terms of the
5^ INTRODUCTORY PSYCHOLOGY FOR TEACHERS
sDow field scene Q will not at first notice that he follows his former
footsteps in preference to walking thru unbroken snow. After a time,
however, the difference in ease of walking along a path as compared
with walking thru the snow is forced upon him. After that he is as
much influenced by this detail of the situation as by P's signals. And in
the mirror-drawing experiment the subject at first doesn't know how
he gets from point i to 2. After a time, however, he realizes that to
g"o to 2 from I you move in the opposite direction from what you want
to, or he may not reach such a generalization but tell you that he dis-
regards what he sees and allows his fingers to guide the moTcment. In
the first case he has clearly in mind what he is doing. In the latter he
is more in the stage of O when he his just commenced to pay attention
to the feeling of path versus no path without thinking particularly
about the meaning of this difference.
Let us return now to the original question : â€” "How are improve-
ments hit upon? Were they (a) accidental, (b) partly understood, or
(c) thoroughly understood?" Fundamentally we have in such a type of
problem as this mirror-drawing experiment a case where an old situa-
tion-bond-response combination is modified so as to give us a new re-
sponse to the same situation. Whenever the response is changed there
results movements more or less of the "trial and error" type. i. e., the
starting of many incorrect movements which are immediately checked
and the final development of the correct movement thru its being al-
lowed to continue. In all such cases the correct movement will be "hit
upon" just as "accidentally" as are any of the incorrect movements. Its
first use is "accidental." Its second, third, fourth, etc., uses are also acci-
dental. But eventually the bond connecting the situation and the new
response reaches a certain degree of strength and the process becomes
a conscious one. The normal thing is for improvements to be hit upon
first and later to become consciously known.
But there are cases where we do consciously plan out the movement
before we commence making any movements at all. These are cases
which we shall study more intensively later under the heading of trans-
fer of training^. It is sufficient now to say that in these cases the sub-
ject has experienced somewhere else in life some situation similar to
the one now confronting him and that he now makes use of some of
that experience in this case. For example, a subject who has previously
studied physics may have learned the principle that vertical lines are
inverted as they appear in a mirror but not horizontal lines. This
princinle mav have been connected ud as a response to the situation
"mirror." Now when confronted with the mirror in this experiment,
the mirror detail of the whole situation in the experiment calls to mind
LESSON 12 57
the physical law. The law then becomes an added detail to this sub-
ject's entire situation. He acts in terms not only of the situation as
other subjects perceive it but also in terms of this detail â€” the physical
law. And acting in terms of the law he has little or no trouble with the
vertical and horizontal lines in the experiment. This statement must
he modified somewhat, however. It is true he will have less trouble
than the average individual if he has in mind the physical law. But he
will have still considerable trouble, unless in his physics course or some-
where else he has actually drawn objects as seen in a mirror. When
one must make a new movement in response to a situation one can only
learn to make it by doing it and this doing involves "trial and error."
If he has not had this experience, he will profit by knowing the law be-
cause he will much more quickly check the wrong movements since he
will have a guide in not only what is seen but also in what is felt in the
hands. Knowing that he must move his hands away from him in going
from I to 2, he will feel in his hands that he is going wrong as soon
as he moves in any other way.
REFEKENCES: ON THE MIRROR-DRAWING EXPERIMENT
D. Starch, A Demonstration of the Trial and Error Method in Learn-
ing. Psychol. Bull., Jan. 1910, 20-23.
G. M. Whipple, Manual of Mental and Physical Tests, 191 5, Vol. II,
ON THE LEARNING PROCESS
Bryan and Harter, Studies in the Physiology and Psychology of the
Telegraphic Language. Psychol. Rev. 1897 and 1899, IV. 27-35 and VI.
W. F. Book, The Psychology of Skill, 1908.
H. A. Ruger, The Psychology of EMciency, Archives of Psychology,
No. 15, 1910. Note especially pp. 36-39.
Ladd & Woodworth, Physiological Psychology, 1911, Part II,
LESSON 13â€” HOW DOES ONE LEARN A SPANISH-ENGLISH
Is the learning of a vocabulary an entirely different performance from
the learning of handwriting? Or are there certain parts of each that
are more or less similar? What are the processes involved in memor-
izing a vocabulary? Is there a one "best" method for all individuals
or are there different methods which are best adapted to different in-
In this experiment E will pronounce a Spanish word and S will be
expected to g^ve the English equivalent. If he can't E will prompt
58 INTRODUCTORY PSYCHOLOGY FOR TEACHERS
him and a little later try him again. As the promptings continue S will
gradually learn the vocabulary. Devote your time and ingenuity in
this experiment to discovering how S learns the pairs of words. In
some cases S will frankly not know, in other cases he will say the sound
suggested the English word, in other cases he will have other answers.
Endeavor to discover as accurately as possible just how S learned
A few students, particularly men, take an inordinate amount of time
to learn their vocabulary. Yet if there were a thousand dollars at
stake they could do the task in a few minutes. Do not allow a wrong
attitude to interfere with your work. Get it done quickly.
Problem : How does one learn a Spanish-English vocabulary.^
Apparatus. E receives from the instructor a list of 25 Spanish- Eng-
lish words, which S is to commit to memory. (If S knows Spanish E
should report this fact to the instructor and secure a vocabulary in
some other language.)
Procedure, (i) E prepares a tally sheet similar to the model
(Plate V) and fills in the list of Spanish and English words to be
(2) E supplies S with a list of the Spanish words (but not the
English words) which S will keep before him as his prompting list.
(3) Trial i. E will read aloud to S the Spanish words and their
English equivalents at the approximate rate of one pair every three
seconds. S will follow with his eyes the Spanish words on his list
during the reading and will endeavor to memorize the pairs as they
are read. He will not write down the English words.
This first trial has, of course, 25 promptings since E read to S each
Spanish word and its English equivalent. Accordingly record an "x" in
column one of the tally sheet opposite each of the 25 pairs of words.
(4) Trial 2. S pronounces the first Spanish word on his list and
attempts to give its EngHsh equivalent, (a) If he succeeds, then stop
until you have written down S's explanation of how he came to connect
the Spanish and English words together. Record these observations in
detail because they are the results you are especially interested in ob-
taining in this experiment. When this is done S pronounces the sec-
ond Spanish word and attempts to give its English equivalent. Etc.
(b) If S gives an incorrect English word, write that word in column
2 opposite the appropriate Spanish word. Prompt S as to what the
correct English word is. Then have S pronounce the second Spanish
word and attempt to give its English equivalent. Etc.
444 trrÂ»r> Â«Â«Â«c Â»^ a -n I**"
Â» | fffnffiH^i lis
Plate Y. Showing blank to be used by E for
recording promptings &nd mistakes. (The
blank should be &^ inohea wide, allowing
1^ Inohes for eaoh of the forst two coltmms
and â– Â§â€¢ inch for the next eleven columns.)
(c) If S makes no reply within 5 seconds after pronouncing the
Spanish word, mark an "x" in column 2 opposite the appropriate
Spanish word and then prompt S as to the correct English word. S
pronounces the second Spanish word and so continues.
Repeat the above procedure with each Spanish word in the list. In
this way you ascertain whether S has learned the English equivalent
for any of the Spanish words after one prompting (your first read-
ing) , and if so, how he learned it. And furthermore, you have a record
of (a) How many English equivalents were given correctly; (b) How
many were given incorrectly; (c) In how many cases no reply was
(5) Trial 3. Repeat the above procedure for trial 3. Continue with
trial after trial until S can give correctly the English equivalent to
each of the 25 Spanish words without error and without waiting more
than 5 seconds in any case.
(6) If you still have time try this additional experiment. After S
has recited the Spanish-English pairs correctly, have him start at the
bottom of the list and call out the English equivalents as before, reading
up the list instead of down. Continue until S can recite the list cor-
rectly. What additional light does this experiment throw on the whole
problem of learning a vocabulary?
Results, (i) Count up the number of promptings (the number of
"x's" plus the number of English words which were incorrectly given
6o INTRODUCTORY PSYCHOLOGY FOR TEACHERS
in each column) and record the totals at the bottom of each column, as
has been done in the model blank. Plot a prompting-curve.
(2) Record all the facts you have marshalled as to how one learns
Interpretation. Answer the following questions and give any other
conclusions of interest here.
( 1 ) How does the learning curve based on promptings compare
with the learning curves obtained in learning the alphabet and mirror-
(2) In what different ways did S learn the Spanish-English pairs
of words? What seem to be the general laws underlying such learn-
ing? Are these laws similar to or different from those related to
Application. How might these methods be cultivated? Where else
could the same methods be utilized ?
Hand in your write-up of this experiment at the next class-hour.
LESSON 14â€” THE LEARNING PROCESS INVOLVED IN COM-
MITTING TO MEMORY A VOCABULARY*
A foreign word may become associated with an English word in two
different ways. It may be learned thru simple repetition, or it may be
learned thru the intermediation of one or more steps. Take the case
of the German word "hund" and its English equivalent "dog." Some
individuals will come to know that "hund" means "dog" by simple
repetition of the two words together. Other individuals, when con-
fronted with "hund," will think "hound" and then "dog". When the
intermediate step is employed the combination "hund-dog" may be
learned with one repetition and may then function satisfactorily thru-
out life. When the purely repetitive method is employed the combina-
tion may only be learned after a number of repetitions and even then
may not function a few days later.
Consider a second illustration. The Chinese symbol :^ stands for
"a well of water." If one were engaged in committing a Chinese-Eng-
lish vocabulary, particularly at the commencement of the course in
Chinese, it is most likely that the combination would be learned ac-
cording to the first method indicated above â€” thru sheer repetition of
the two together. However, if one was instructed by his teacher, that
and that the four
and also that the
small c 1 u s t e r
then it is quite
the symbol # was derived originally from
outside lines had been gradually dropped,
original symbol stood pictorially for a
about a common well,
that one would need but
of houses n D n
likely a Qa
(this one odd
repetition) in order to retain for life the combination
â€¢â€¢The above explanation of the symbols is not technically correct but it is the con-
ception that Miss Annie E. Bradshaw used in learning the symbol. The correct explana-
tion is reoorrled here as given by ^â– r. C \V Luh. It i of intere:;! in thi-; connection, as it
shows how thru associations a term obtains new meanings. This word, "well," is de-
rived from an ancient hyerograph. The square in the middle represents the mouth of
the square rail of the well. Around it are walls slanting towards the ground. The rescm-
Discuss, Lesson 13
Experiment. Les. 1 5
Lesson 1 3
lesson 1 4
62 INTRODUCTORY PSYCHOLOGY FOR TEACHERS
LEARNING THRU SHEER REPETITION (Rote Memory)
Consider the fundamental process involved in learning "hund-dog'
thru sheer repetition. We start with the abilities : â€”
(i) to pronounce "hund" when we see the printed word "hund,"
(2) to pronounce "dog" when we see the printed word "dog,"
(3) to call to mind a considerable number of words after seeing
the word "dog," such as, "Toby," "animal," "four-legs," "white,"
"black," "yellow," "cur," etc. All of these latter combinations
have been developed thru experience and go to make up as a
complex whole our complex thought "dog." It is quite likely when
we see the word "dog" and say "dog," that there is a more or less
simultaneous commencement of the processes to say many or all of
the others also.
Such abilities do not impress us as adults. But if we stop to think
a moment we realize that small children can not do these seemingly
simple things; hence, we must have learned them at some time.
It may be that we have never pronounced "hund" after seeing the
word. But we are able to do so because of the existence of still simpler
abilities which we possess, namely : â€”
(i) to pronounce "h" when we see the letter "h,"
(2) to pronounce "und" when we see the letters "und,"
(3) to connect up the two sounds into one word, i. e., "hund."
The more we fall back upon these simpler abilities when attempting to
pronounce "hund" the first time the more slowly and with the more
hesitancy will we pronounce the word, coupled with an increase in
speed and confidence with successive trials. That this point may be
better appreciated, watch yourself master the pronunciation of the fol-
lowing words : "handworterbuch," equilibrating," "concaturating."
(This type of learning is similar to learning the alphabet backwards,
type 2a of Lesson 9.)
Having disposed of the problem of pronouncing "hund" when we see
the printed word "hund," let us restate what we have to start with
in the form of a diagram.
blance is more remarkable when we write the word in an older style, like
The "well system." During the Dynasty of West Chau (1122-769 B. C.)
the land tax was paid in community labor. Each square (about Vii sq. mi.)
was divided into nine allotments, like . The middle square was
public land, the products of which sup . i I i ported the central gov-
ernment. Eight families were assigned to the farmsteads around
it, and they worked on it as they did, their own farms. The
arrangement of the farms, with theirl ~ fences and pathways
looks just like the word#. So we have " â€” 'â€” ' â€” ' come to call it the "well system."
"For a time, it was a very effective method, and the management sf
these farms became a byword for order and cleanliness. So the word #
became an adjective. In rhetoric we double it(##) and this means Very
(i) seeing "hund"
(2) " "dog"
(3) " "dqfe"
(4) " "dog"
The problem is to connect the situation (seeing word "hund") with the
existing responses to "seeing dog," i. e., to connect with the first situa-
tion in the above table the responses to the second, third, fourth, etc.,
situations. In terms of a diagram the problem is to develop the dotted
line below : â€”
SITUATION RESPONSE SECONDARY RESPONSE
It is apparent from our experience in the experiment of Lesson 13
that a new connection or bond, such as indicated by the dotted line
above, can be developed by mere repetition. Expressed in a more
general way we have : â€”
Situation i -sr;^^;; > Response i
Situation 2 ""^ '^ ^ Response 2
with the generalization that repetition of Si â€” Ri and S2 â€” R2 results
in the formation of a new bond Si â€” R2.
One of the classical experiments illustrating this law was per-
formed by the Russian psychologist, Pavlov. He rigged up an appa-
ratus on a dog to measure the flow of saliva. Then he showed the dog
a bone and at the same time gave him an electrical shock. In diag^a-
matic form: â€”
1. Electrical shock â– â– Â» i. Skin withdrawn from contact.
2. Presence of bone-*â€” ^ 2. Increased flow of saliva.
After a number of such repetitions, the bone was no longer shown and
It was found that the saliva flowed in response to the electrical shock
just as it had originally done in response to seeing the bone. The experi-
ment thus demonstrated the development of the now bond.
Situation i, electrical shock, ^
" '^Response 2, srdiva flows
64 INTRODUCTORY PSYCHOLOGY FOR TEACHERS
Some corollaries to the above law.
1. If one recites his vocabulary in this way: â€”
seeing "der" saying '"der" saying "the"
" "hund" " "hund" " "dog"
" "haus" " "haus" " "house""
he is strengthening not only the new bond (the dotted line in the dia-
gram above) but also the bond of pronouncing the word when seen.
If he learns his vocabulary by merely looking at the foreign word and
pronouncing its English equivalent, thus: â€”
seeing "der" saying "the"
"hund" " "dog"
"haus" " "house
he is strengthening mainly, if not entirely, the new and desired com-
2. But even such a procedure does not lead to the best development
of one's vocabulary. It leads simply to the connection of "hund" with
"dog." If one, on the other hand, should on seeing "hund" say "dog,"
then "animal," "cur," "Toby," etc., he would give to the foreign word
"hund" the meaning that attaches to its English equivalent besides
connecting the two together.
Professor Gordon has demonstrated this in an experiment when one
group of students studied an Italian-English vocabularly made up of
the words in a stanza of a poem. They were permitted to study the
Tocabulary in any way they pleased for half an hour. The second group
spent this half hour as follows: â€” (a) the poem as a whole was ex-
plained, (b) a close translation was given them, (c) the poem was
read in Italian, (d) the poem was read in Italian and translated line
by line, (e) the group read aloud the poem in Italian, then each mem-
ber of the group did so and gave a translation, (f) the passage was
read in Italian several times. Both groups were tested at the end of the
half hour as to their knowledge of the vocabulary, zdso again a week
later. The errors made by the two groups were: â€”
Test following study, Group I, â€” 0.58 errors ; Group II, â€” 3.83
Test a week later. Group I, â€” 6.30 errors; Group II, â€” 3.50
"Thus the words learned in lists have the advantage at first but lose
it later. In addition to a more permanent learning of the individual
words, the second grou]:> were able to recite the poem very creditably.*
All those who have studied a foreign language have realized the force
of the conclusion in this experiment. Foreign words learned as a part
of a vocabulary are not learned in the same way as the same words
â€¢Kate Cordoru Educational Psychology, 1917, pp. 173-176.
LESSON 14 65
what learned during reading. The word may be known, for example, in
the vocabulary but not understood in the text. There are a number
of reasons for this besides the one suggested above, but let us consider
it alone here. The foreign word has been connected in the vocabulary
lesson with an English equivalent, but it has not necessarily been con-
nected with the g^eat wealth of meaning that the English word carries
with it. The foreign word may call to mind the English word but the
English word called to mind may not then call to mind its meaning since
the foreign word is the situation to which we are primarily reacting, not
the English equivalent. Under such a condition of affairs two steps
are necessary before we can use the foreign word in the translation,