Effects of modeling and knowledge of results on learning a sequential motor task
Wilson, Sean Suzanne Passmore
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Within the realm of education, it is essential for instructors to understand the importance of motor learning as it readies students or athletes for functioning within the environment. Previous research on the acquisition of a motor skill has shown modeling and knowledge of results to be two significant variables affecting learning. The purpose of this study was to determine if knowledge of results or modeling, as a means of providing instruction, would lead to more improvement in performance. Also of interest was whether receiving both a model and knowledge of results would lead to the most improved performance, or if the combined variables would be redundant and hinder performance. Fifty-two subjects were divided into four groups. One group was given a model prior to each trial. The second group was given written instructions prior to each trial and received knowledge of results after performing the task. Subjects in the third group received a model and written instructions prior to each trial and then were given knowledge of results after performing the task. The control group was only given instructions for the task between each trial. All groups performed a complex sequential stepping task. Following the acquisition trials, subjects were given retention tests without modeling, written instructions, or knowledge of results in order to examine whether the skill was learned. Results indicated that although all groups appeared to have learned the task, subjects in the Model + KR Group consistently performed better than subjects in the Model Group. No differences in performance were found for the Model + KR, KR, and Control groups. However, knowledge of results appears to be beneficial for dealyed retention since the Model Group performed as well as the group receiving written instructions only in the final block of retention trials. It was determined that variables such as task type, task complexity, and task novelty may have had an influence on the effectiveness of modeling. Consequently, it appears that the best method for learning a complex sequential motor task consists of a model augmented by knowledge of results and/or written instructions.