Intelligence and Learning

Volume 14 of the series NATO Conference Series pp 515-529

Inducing Flexible Thinking: The Problem of Access

  • Ann L. BrownAffiliated withUniversity of Illinois
  • , Joseph C. CampioneAffiliated withUniversity of Illinois

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


We began by illustrating that the concept of accessibility was central to many theories of psychology from quite disparate domains. A distinction similar to Pylyshyn’s of multiple and reflective access also seems to be, at least implicitly, part of many theories. Given that accessibility is a core concept in so many current disputes, we suggest that no theory of intelligence can be complete unless provision is made for the operation of second-order knowledge, i.e., knowledge about what we know (reflective access) and flexible use of the routines available to the system (multiple access).

In the second part of the paper we consider the evidence that diagnosis of retarded and learning disabled children’s learning problems based on process theories are fundamentally diagnoses of restricted access. Training studies, whether successful or not at inducing transfer, provide rich support for the hypothesis that the slow learning child has peculiar difficulty with the flexible use of knowledge. In the final section we consider the implications of the position for the design of training programs to alleviate the problem of accessibility. Here we address the developing technology we have for programming transfer of training and the importance of interpersonal settings, particularly Socratic tutoring, as cognitive support systems for learning.