Date of Award

August 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Urban Education

First Advisor

Barbara J. Daley

Committee Members

Larry G. Martin, Marshall L. Dermer, Cindy M. Walker, Simone C O Conceicao


Adult Education, Critical Reflection, Instrumental Learning, Reflection, Skill-Based Learning, Training


In work-related, instrumental learning contexts the role of reflective activities is unclear. Kolb's (1985) experiential learning theory and Mezirow's transformative learning theory (2000) predict skill-adaptation as a possible outcome. This prediction was experimentally explored by manipulating reflective activities and assessing participants' response and error rates when an instrumentally learned skill is applied in a novel way (skill-adaptation). Participants were randomly assigned to three conditions (interference, reflection, or critical reflection) using three blocking variables: (a) gender, (b) age, and (c) reflective propensity. Participants then completed a behavioral skills training program with embedded reflective activities. Afterwards, participants were asked to complete a novel application task. ANOVAs neither revealed: differences in response or error rates between reflective activity groups, even when accounting for reflective propensity, nor a significant interaction between reflective activity and reflective propensity on response rate. A significant interaction, however, was found between reflective activity and reflective propensity on error rate. In the critical reflection condition, non-reflective learners had higher error rates than reflective learners. Four conclusions based on these findings are offered, along with implications for teaching, practice, and research.