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Continuity and Discontinuity in Learning

Continuity and discontinuity in learning refer to the problem of whether there are qualitative changes in the fundamental mechanisms that govern learning. This question has been examined in the literature in two separate but related ways. The first approach examines whether qualitative breaks occur with increasing expertise or additional learning, and it was conducted mostly prior to the 1980s using animal learning paradigms and human learning of simple verbal materials. The second approach evaluates whether there are developmental changes in learning that are qualitative in nature.

The historical debate was inspired in part by the observation of seemingly contradictory phenomena. On one hand, much research in learning, including the seminal results from Hermann Ebbinghaus, revealed canonical smooth learning curves, in which performance could be plotted as ...

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