Age, ability and the role of prior knowledge on the acquisition of new domain knowledge

Prior knowledge, fluid intelligence (Gf), and crystallized intelligence (Gc) were investigated as predictors of learning new information about cardiovascular disease and xerography with a sample of 199 adults (19 to 68 years). The learning environment included a laboratory multimedia presentation (high-constraint-maximal effort), and a self-directed at-home study component (low-constraint-typical performance). Results indicated that prior knowledge and ability were important predictors of knowledge acquision for learning.Gc was directly related to learning from the video for both domains. Because the trajectory of Gc stays relativley stable throughout the life span, these findings provide a more optimistic perspective on the relationship between aging and learning than that offered by theroies that focus on the role of fluid abilities in learning.