Influence upon rule learning of learners' notion that rules have exceptions: How to encourage learners to apply rules

Keiichi Magara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


In prior research (Kudo, 2003), although about 50% of the university students explicitly taught a rule about seed plants could not derive any general information from the rule, Kudo (2003) did not explain why the students could not do this. In the present study, we hypothesized that learners' notion that a rule they have been taught may have some exceptions prevents them from deriving general information from the text. In 2 studies, university students (N = 44 and 60 respectively) were explicitly taught a rule about seed plants, using the example of tulips, as in Kudo's (2003) study (Study 1), or rape blossoms (Study 2). In both studies, about 70% of the participants said that they thought that the rule might have some exceptions, and so they could not apply the rule to new instances. In Study 3 (N = 75), in order to encourage learners to overcome their notion about exceptions and apply the rule to new instances, we placed the participants in an imaginary betting situation, and asked them whether or not a new instance had a property predicted by the rule they had been taught. More learners in the betting condition than in the standard condition answered on the basis of the rule. After participating in the imaginary betting situation, the learners could also apply the rule to new instances in the standard test situation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-161
Number of pages11
JournalJapanese Journal of Educational Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Jun



  • Learners' notion about exceptions to a rule
  • Rule learning
  • Rule-based reasoning
  • University students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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