Memory and Metacognition for Piano Melodies: Illusory Advantages of Fixed- over Random-Order Practice

By Abushanab, Branden; Bishara, Anthony J. | Memory & Cognition, August 2013 | Go to article overview

Memory and Metacognition for Piano Melodies: Illusory Advantages of Fixed- over Random-Order Practice


Abushanab, Branden, Bishara, Anthony J., Memory & Cognition


Published online: 19 March 2013

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2013

Abstract Some learning schedules can foster an illusion of competence, whereby the learner feels that the skill will be retained better than it actually will be. Consider fixed-order practice, in which a person practices a task repeatedly before switching to the next task (e.g., task order A, A, B, B); in contrast, in random-order practice, a person randomly alternates among two or more tasks (e.g., task order C, D, D, C). In the present experiment, participants (n = 25) who had formal training in piano practiced melodies under fixed- or random-order conditions (within-subjects), and then returned for a retention test 2 days later. Initially, the participants performed faster on melodies practiced in a fixed-order. However, on a retention test 2 days later, participants were faster with melodies from the random-order condition. Despite the within-subjects design, which facilitated the comparison of practice conditions, participants' metacognitive judgments indicated an illusion of competence, whereby they erroneously believed that fixed-order practice would result in faster retention performance. Our results suggest that even some trained musicians may use ease of acquisition as a heuristic for predicting future performance.

Keywords Contextual interference · Metacognition · JOL · Music cognition · Motor learning

The order in which someone practices a motor skill, such as playing an instrument or typing, can have a large impact on the memory retention for that skill. Past research has revealed a paradox, which is that the practice schedule that produces superior performance at the time of acquisition may yield inferior performance at retention (Simon & Bjork, 2001, 2002). Over the years, this paradox has been demonstrated in motor learning for various skills, including keyed timing (Simon & Bjork, 2001,2002), golfing (Porter, Landin, Hebert, & Baum, 2007), knot tying (Ollis, Button, & Fairweather, 2005), and musical instrument learning (Stambaugh, 2011). Additionally, practice schedules can influence an individual's judgments of learning by fostering an illusion of competence, whereby the learner feels that the skill will be retained better than it actually will be. How robust is this illusion? In the present report, we sought to demonstrate both (a) that the illusion can occur even in formally trained individuals-in this case, musicians-and (b) that the illusion can occur even when participants can easily compare practice schedules.

When describing the influence of practice order on the acquisition and retention of a motor activity, one can draw upon the contextual-interference principle (Battig, 1979; see Magill & Hall, 1990, for a review). This principle proposes that arranging to-be-learned materials in a way that intro- duces interference between those materials typically im- pedes performance at acquisition, but frequently leads to superior performance at the time of retention (Lee & Simon, 2004). For example, imagine that an individual is asked to practice melodies A and ? in a fixed-order (e.g., melodies ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, B) and is asked to practice melodies C and D in a random-order (e.g., melodies C, D, C, C, D, D). Given that practicing melodies C and D requires the learner to alternate between the melodies in no specific pattern, arrang- ing items in random-order is one way to introduce interference during acquisition of a skill (Shea & Morgan, 1979). Because of the high interference during learning of melodies C and D, the contextual-interference principle predicts poor acquisition and superior retention performance for those particular melo- dies. Additionally, the contextual-interference principle sug- gests that judgments made while under the influence of contextual-interference may reflect misconceptions of future performance.

Research has revealed that judgments of learning (JOLs) are sometimes an unreliable heuristic for future performance (e. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Memory and Metacognition for Piano Melodies: Illusory Advantages of Fixed- over Random-Order Practice
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    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.