Motor Development Research: I. The Lessons of History Revisited (the 18th to the 20th Century)

in Journal of Motor Learning and Development
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  • 1 University of Maryland, Baltimore
  • 2 University of Stuttgart
  • 3 University of Michigan
  • 4 University of Strathclyde
  • 5 Ghent University
  • 6 University of Maryland, College Park
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In 1989, Clark and Whitall asked the question, “What is motor development?” They were referring to the study of motor development as an academic research enterprise and answered their question primarily by describing four relatively distinct time periods characterized by changes in focus, theories or concepts, and methodology. Their last period was named the process-oriented period (1970–1989). In hindsight, it seems clear that their last period could be divided into two separate historical time periods: the information-processing period (1970–1982) and the dynamical systems period (1982–2000). In the present paper, we briefly revisit the first three periods defined by Clark and Whitall, and expand and elaborate on the two periods from 1970 to the turn of the century. Each period is delineated by key papers and the major changes in focus, theories or concepts, and methodology. Major findings about motor development are also described from some papers as a means of showing the progression of knowledge.

Whitall is with the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD, USA. Schott is with the Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany. Robinson is with the School of Kinesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA; and the Center for Human Growth and Development, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA. Bardid is with the School of Education, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom; and the Department of Movement and Sports Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium. Clark is with the Department of Kinesiology, School of Public Health, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA; and Neuroscience and Cognitive Science Program, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA.

Whitall (jwhitall@som.umaryland.edu) is corresponding author.
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