Reflections on Motor Development Research Across the 20th Century: Six Empirical Studies That Changed the Field

in Journal of Motor Learning and Development
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  • 1 University of Maryland, College Park
  • 2 University of Strathclyde
  • 3 Ghent University
  • 4 University of Delaware
  • 5 University of Michigan
  • 6 University of Stuttgart
  • 7 University of Maryland, Baltimore
  • 8 University of Southampton
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Motor development research has had a rich history over the 20th century with a wide array of scientists contributing to a broad and deep body of literature. Just like the process of development, progress within the field has been non-linear, with rapid periods of growth occurring after the publication of key research articles that changed how we conceptualized and explored motor development. These publications provided new ways to consider developmental issues and, as a result, ignited change in our theoretical and empirical approaches within the field of motor development and the broader field of developmental psychology. In this paper, we outline and discuss six pioneering studies that we consider significant in their impact and in the field’s evolution, in order of publication: ; ; ; ; ; . We have limited this review to empirical papers only. Together, they offer insight into what motor development research is, where it came from, why it matters, and what it has achieved.

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

Clark (jeclark@umd.edu) is corresponding author.
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