International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Volume 10 Num. 1 - March 2010


Celeration of Executive Functioning while Solving the Tower of Hanoi: Two Single Case Studies Using Protocol Analysis

Volume 10 Num. 1 - March 2010 - Pages 19-40


Gwenny T.L. Janssen , Hubert R.A. De Mey , Jos I.M. Egger , Cilia L.M. Witteman


The present study was designed to systematically explore individual learning abilities by an in depth analysis of the performances of two single participants on the five disk Tower of Hanoi. Verbal protocols were obtained to provide us with a detailed picture of strategy development and learning. Correct and incorrect responses were plotted on a Standard Celeration Chart in order to analyze the growth of learning across time (i.e., celeration). Protocol analysis revealed that both participants formulated rules, indicating the presence of previously learned problem-solving strategies or ?schemas,? but also showed a substantial
difference in adequately adapting these rules to modify their executive behaviour. Furthermore, celeration trends indicated a markedly increase of speed and accuracy level for performances of participant A, whereas performances of participant B showed no (significant) changes in behaviour accuracy. We concluded that a systematic investigation of the actual processes that underlie the acquisition of strategies using protocol analysis, can provide us with a detailed picture of individual differences on EF. Additionally, the Standard Celeration Chart proved to be a good assessment method to monitor behavioural changes and individual learning. On the critical side, further investigation of the differential effects of age, gender and pathology on individual performance seems to be warranted.

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