Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Self-Control of Task Difficulty during Training Enhances Motor Learning of a Complex Coincidence-Anticipation Task

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Self-Control of Task Difficulty during Training Enhances Motor Learning of a Complex Coincidence-Anticipation Task

Article excerpt

The aim of the present work was to analyze the influence of self-controlled task difficulty on motor learning. Participants had to intercept three targets falling at different velocities by displacing a stylus above a digitizer. Task difficulty corresponded to racquet width. Half the participants (self-control condition) could choose the racquet width at the beginning of each trial. Each was paired with a participant from the yoked group. The self-control condition resulted in better performances and accuracy during immediate and delayed retention tests. These results confirm the advantage of a self-control condition on motor learning. They are discussed with reference to the challenge point hypothesis (Guadagnoli & Lee, 2004).

Key words: challenge point hypothesis, information processing, practice

**********

Many studies have shown that giving a learner the possibility to control some characteristic of the situation during training enhances motor learning (Chen & Singer, 1992; Wulf, 2007). For example, when learners receive feedback about movement form only on request, they outperform their yoked counterparts as well as those who receive feedback after each trial (Janelle, Barba, Frehlich, Tennant, & Cauraugh, 1997; Janelle, Kim, & Singer, 1995). This pattern of results has been often replicated (Chen, Hendrick, & Lidor, 2002; Chiviacowsky & Wulf, 2002, 2005; Chiviacowsky, Wulf, de Medeiros, Kaefer, & Tani, 2008; Chiviacowsky, Wulf, de Medeiros, Kaefer, & Wally, 2008). Similarly, motor learning is improved when participants can choose to use a physical assistance during task execution (Hartman, 2007; Wulf, Clauss, Shea, & Whitacre, 2001; Wulf & Toole, 1999), view a demonstration of the skill (Wrisberg & Pein, 2002; Wulf, Raupach, & Pfeiffer, 2005), have concurrent visual feedback during task execution (Huet, Camachon, Fernandez, Jacobs, & Montagne, 2009), or intervene on the practice schedule (Keetch & Lee, 2007). Self-controlled practice conditions are generally considered to be more in line with the learner's needs or preferences than externally imposed conditions, leading to more efficient processing of task-related information (Chiviacowsky & Wulf, 2002, 2005).

Among the parameters that can be tailored to the learner's needs during practice, the level of task difficulty seems to be one of the most important (Albaret & Thon, 1998; Choi, Qi, Gordon, & Schweighofer, 2008; Famose, 1990; Wulf & Shea, 2002; Wulf, Tollner, & Shea, 2007). As underlined by several authors (French et al., 1991; Guadagnoli & Lee, 2004; Kelley, 1969; Lintern & Gopher, 1978; Williges & Williges, 1977), the task difficulty has to be adapted to the participant's skill level, because it has to reach an optimum corresponding to a "challenge point" (Guadagnoli & Lee, 2004) to promote skill acquisition; if the task difficulty is lower or higher, learning would deteriorate because the task is either too easy or too difficult. Difficulty level can be adapted during practice as a function of the participant's performance (Choi et al., 2008; Kelley, 1969; Mane, Adams, & Donchin, 1989) or freely chosen by the learner in a self-controlled condition. Williges and Williges (1977) studied the effects of these conditions in a two-dimensional tracking task. Task difficulty was related to the frequency of target displacements and was imposed on the participants, adapted continuously to their performance, or chosen by the participant during task execution. The latter conditions, called automatically adaptive and learner-centered training conditions, respectively, led to the best performances in a transfer test compared to a fixed difficulty training condition (Williges & Williges, 1977). However, because the study did not include a yoked participant group, it is difficult to distinguish the specific role of the self-control condition on learning. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.