Aptitude-Treatment Interactions in Educational Research

  • Richard E. Snow


In education, the study of person-situation interaction translates into research on individual differences in student aptitudes for learning under differing instructional conditions. An old and vast literature in educational psychology attests to the fact that individual differences in learner aptitudes predict learning outcomes. But a substantial new body of literature also now demonstrates that aptitude variables often interact with instructional treatment variables in these predictions. These so-called aptitude-treatment interactions (ATI) have important implications for the development of instructional theory and research and for instructional improvement. They provide a powerful new means of testing the construct validity of aptitude constructs and of focusing task analyses of instructional situations. They suggest a systematic approach to the individualization of instruction. More than this, they signal that theories in educational research require constructs woven from an understanding of individual differences in psychological processes as these are influenced by differing situational demands; they prove the need for the unified psychological science envisioned by Cronbach (1957).


Reading Comprehension Cognitive Style Instructional Treatment Student Type High Ability Student 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Campbell, D.T., and Fiske, D.W. Convergent and discriminant validation by the multitrait-multimethod matrix. Psychological Bulletin, 1959, 56, 81–105.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Crist-Whitzel, J.L., and Hawley-Winne, B.J. Individual differences and mathematics achievement: An investigation of aptitude-treatment interactions in an evaluation of three instructional approaches. Paper presented at the meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, April 1976.Google Scholar
  3. Cronbach, L.J. The two disciplines of scientific psychology. American Psychologist, 1957, 12, 671–684.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cronbach, L.J. Beyond the two disciples of scientific psychology. American Psychologist, 1975, 30, 116–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cronbach, L.J., Rogosa, D., Price, G., and Floden, R. Analysis of covariance-Angel of salvation, or temptress and deluder? Occasional paper, Stanford Evaluation Consortium Stanford University, 1976.Google Scholar
  6. Cronbach, L.J., and Snow, R.E. Aptitudes and instructional methods: A handbook for research on interactions. New York: Irvington, 1977.Google Scholar
  7. Cronbach, L.J., and Webb, N. Between-class and within-class effects in a reported aptitude x treatment interaction: Reanalysis of a study by G.L. Anderson. Journal of Educational Psychology, 1975, 67, 717–724.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cunningham, W.G. Impact of student-teacher pairings on teacher effectiveness. American Educational Research journal, 1975, 12, 169–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Daniels, R.L., and Stevens, J.P. The interaction between the internal-external locus of control and two methods of college instruction. American Educational Research Journal, 1976, 13, 103–113.Google Scholar
  10. Ferguson, G.A. On learning and human ability. Canadian Journal of Psychology, 1954, 8, 95–112.Google Scholar
  11. Ferguson, G.A. On transfer and the abilities of man. Canadian Journal of Psychology, 1956, 10, 121–131.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Garrett, H.E. A developmental theory of intelligence. American Psychologist, 1946, 1, 372–378.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Greeno, J.G. Theory of language processing. Paper presented at the Symposium on Individual Differences, Cognition, and Learning, annual meeting of American Association for the Advancement of Science, Denver, February 22, 1977.Google Scholar
  14. Hunt, E.B. Verbal IQ and information processing. Paper presented at the Symposium on Individual Differences, Cognition, and Learning, annual meeting of American Association for the Advancement of Science, Denver, February 22, 1977.Google Scholar
  15. Hunt, J.McV. Intelligence and experience. New York: Ronald Press, 1961.Google Scholar
  16. Jensen, A.R. Genetics and education. London: Methuen, 1972.Google Scholar
  17. Kerlinger, F.N., and Pedhazur, E.J. Multiple regression in behavioral research. New York; Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1973.Google Scholar
  18. Koran, M.L., Snow, R.E., and McDonald, F.J. Teacher aptitude and observational learning of a teaching skill. Journal of Educational Psychology, 1971, 62, 219–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Loftus, E.F., and Loftus, C.R. Changes in memory structure and retrieval over the course of instruction. Journal of Educational Psychology, 1974, 66, 315–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Loftus, C.R., and Loftus, E.F. Human memory: The processing of information. Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum, 1976.Google Scholar
  21. McLeod, Douglas B. Carpenter, Thomas P., McCornack, Robert L., and Skvarcius, R. Cognitive style and mathematics learning: The interaction of field independence and instructional treatment in numeration systems. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Atlanta, April 1976.Google Scholar
  22. Newell, A. You can't play 20 questions with nature and win. In W.C., Chase (ed.), Visual information processing. New York: Academic Press, 1972.Google Scholar
  23. Parent, J., Forward, J., Canter, R., and Mohling, J. Interactive effects of teaching strategy and personal locus of control on student performance and satisfaction. Journal of Educational Psychology, 1975, 67, 764–769.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. RumelhartD.E., and Norman D.A. Accretion, tuning, and restructuring: Three modes of learning. Report No. 7602, Center for Human Information Processing, University of California, San Diego, August 1976.Google Scholar
  25. Sharps, R. A study of interactions between fluid and crystallized abilities and two methods of teaching reading and arithmetic. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, The Pennsylvania State University, 1973.Google Scholar
  26. Simon, H.A. Identifying basic abilities underlying intelligent performance of complex tasks. In L.B., Resnick (Ed.). The nature of human intelligence. Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum, 1976.Google Scholar
  27. Snow, R.E. Representative and quasi-representative designs for research on teaching. Reuieio of Educational Research, 1974, 44, 265–292.Google Scholar
  28. Snow, R.E. Theory and method for research on aptitude processes. Technical Report #2, Aptitude Research Project, School of Education, Stanford University. Stanford, Calif.: 1976.Google Scholar
  29. Snow, R.E. Research on aptitudes: A progress report. In L.S., Shulman (Ed.), Review of research in education. Vol. 4. Itasca, III.: Peacock, 1977.Google Scholar
  30. Solomon, D., and Kendall, A.J. Individual characteristics and children’s performance in “open” and “traditional” classroom settings. Journal of Educational Psychology, 1976, 68, 613–625.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Webb, Noreen M. Learning in individual and small group settings. Technical Report #7, Aptitude Research Project, School of Education, Stanford University. Stanford, Calf.: 1977.Google Scholar
  32. Woodrow, H. The ability to learn. Psychological Review, 1946, 53, 147–158.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard E. Snow
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EducationStanford UniversityStanford

Personalised recommendations