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Jane E. Clark

The past is prologue, writes Shakespeare in The Tempest. And there seems no better expression to capture the theme of my essay on searching the future of kinesiology in its recent past through my lens as a motor development scholar. Using the developmental metaphor of climbing a mountain amidst a range of mountains, the progressing stages of my development and that of kinesiology are recounted. Over the five-plus decades of my growth as an academic and that of kinesiology, I look for the antecedents and the constraints that shape our change and may shape the future of the field of motor development and kinesiology.

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Jane E. Clark

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Jane E. Clark

How we understand the emergence and development of motor behavior and skillfulness has itself developed over the last 50 years. In reflecting on the history of motor development, it is important to recognize that these ‘reflections’ are much like the painter’s “pentimento.” That is, the ‘canvas’ we paint today of what our science was decades ago is actually a painting with many layers—each representing where our views have changed along the journey. I do not “repent” with these reflections, as suggested by the term, pentimento, but rather I seek to bring a developmental perspective to our scientific inquiries into motor development with an element of a revisionist’s approach. What were the key discoveries and the seminal papers that influenced our canvas of motor development that we view today? Almost three decades ago, we (Clark & Whitall, 1989) outlined an historical framework for the field of motor development. Today, we can look back at that framework and the ensuing science and consider where we have been and what we have learned and ask: What does the pentimento of our motor development canvas reveal?

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Jane E. Clark

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Jane E. Clark and Jill Whitall

In 1981, George Brooks provided a review of the academic discipline of physical education and its emerging subdisciplines. Forty years later, the authors review how the field has changed from the perspective of one subdiscipline, motor development. Brooks’s text sets the scene with four chapters on motor development from leaders in the field, including G. Lawrence Rarick, to whom the book is dedicated. From this beginning, the paper describes the evolving scientific perspectives that have emerged since 1981. Clearly, from its past to the present, motor development as a scientific field has itself developed into a robust and important scientific area of study. The paper ends with a discussion of the grand challenges for kinesiology and motor development in the next 40 years.

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Jane E. Clark and Bradley D. Hatfield

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Shikha Prashad, Yue Du, and Jane E. Clark

Current methods to understand implicit motor sequence learning inadequately assess motor skill acquisition in daily life. Using fixed sequences in the serial reaction time task is not ideal as participants may become aware of the sequence, thereby changing the learning from implicit to explicit. Probabilistic sequences, in which stimuli are linked by statistical, rather than deterministic, associations can ensure that learning remains implicit. Additionally, the processes underlying the learning of motor sequences may differ based on sequence structure. Here, the authors compared the learning of fixed and probabilistic sequences to randomly ordered stimuli using a modified serial reaction time task. Both the fixed and probabilistic sequence groups exhibited learning as indicated by decreased response time and variability. In the initial stage of learning, fixed sequences exhibited both online and offline gains in response time; however, only the offline gain was observed during the learning of probabilistic sequences. These results indicated that probabilistic structures may be learned differently from fixed structures and have important implications for our current understanding of motor learning. Probabilistic sequences more accurately reflect motor skill acquisition in daily life, offer ecological validity to the serial reaction time framework, and advance our understanding of motor learning.

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Patrick J. DiRocco, Jane E. Clark, and Sally J. Phillips

The purpose of the study was to determine if mildly mentally retarded (MMR) children followed the same developmental sequence of coordination for the propulsive phase of the standing long jump as their nonhandicapped (NH) peers. Subjects for the study included 39 MMR and 90 NH children, ages 4-7 years. Each subject was filmed performing several standing long jumps. Jumping patterns were analyzed from the film records, and distance jumped also was determined from the film. Results indicated that the arm and leg patterns of coordination proposed for NH children by Clark and Phillips (1985) were comprehensive enough to include the MMR children. In spite of similar patterns of coordination, the age group means for the distance jumped by the MMR subjects were 2 to 3 years behind their NH peers. Two explanations are offered for this deficit in distance jumped: first, there may be differences in coordination between the arm and leg action, and second, there may be differences in control mechanisms.