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Wing Kai Lam, Jon P. Maxwell and Richard Masters

The efficacy of analogical instruction, relative to explicit instruction, for the acquisition of a complex motor skill and subsequent performance under pressure was investigated using a modified (seated) basketball shooting task. Differences in attentional resource allocation associated with analogy and explicit learning were also examined using probe reaction times (PRT). Access to task-relevant explicit (declarative) knowledge was assessed. The analogy and explicit learning groups performed equally well during learning and delayed retention tests. The explicit group experienced a drop in performance during a pressured transfer test, relative to their performance during a preceding retention test. However, the analogy group's performance was unaffected by the pressure manipulation. Results from PRTs suggested that both groups allocated equal amounts of attentional resources to the task throughout learning and test trials. Analogy learners had significantly less access to rules about the mechanics of their movements, relative to explicit learners. The results are interpreted in the context of Eysenck and Calvo's (1992) processing efficiency theory and Masters's (1992) theory of reinvestment.

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Jamie M. Poolton, Richard S.W. Masters and Jon P. Maxwell

Learning a motor skill by analogy can benefit performers because the movement that is developed has characteristics of implicit motor learning: namely, movement robustness under pressure and secondary task distraction and limited accrual of explicit knowledge (Liao & Masters, 2001). At an applied level the advantages are lost, however, if the heuristic that underpins the analogy conveys abstractions that are inappropriate for the indigenous culture. The aim of the current experiment was to redevelop Masters’s (2000) right-angled-triangle analogy to accommodate abstractions appropriate for Chinese learners. Novice Chinese participants learned to hit table tennis forehands with topspin using either a redeveloped, culturally appropriate analogy (analogy learning) or a set of 6 instructions relevant to hitting a topspin forehand in table tennis (explicit learning). Analogy learners accrued less explicit knowledge of the movements underlying their performance than explicit learners. In addition, a secondary task load disrupted the performance of explicit learners but not analogy learners. These findings indicate that a culturally relevant analogy can bring about implicit motor learning in a Chinese population.