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Effects of Variability of Practice on the Transfer and Performance of Open and Closed Motor Skills

Thomas A. Eidson and Robert E. Stadulis

Schmidt’s (1975) schema theory hypothesis of variability of practice on the performance of both a closed and an open motor skill was investigated. Following an acquisition phase for each task, moderately mentally handicapped (MH) and nonhandicapped (NH) subjects were randomly assigned to either variable or constant practice. For the closed skill, constant practice groups exhibited more absolute error than the variable practice groups during performance of a transfer task. No significant effect of type of practice for the open skill was obtained. For the open skill, MH subjects had significantly greater absolute error and variable error than NH subjects; no performance differences were evidenced for the closed skill. For both MH and NH subjects, Schmidt’s variability-of-practice hypothesis was supported, but only for closed skills.

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Social Facilitation of Young Children's Dynamic Balance Performance

Mary Jo MacCracken and Robert E. Stadulis

Dynamic balance performance of young children (ages 4, 6, and 8) was assessed in three social situations: alone (only with tester present); coaction (one other child performing at the same time); and spectators (five other observer children present). Within each age and gender, children (N = 120) were classified as of higher or lower comparative skill. Each balance task performed (walking forward and backward on a line, a narrow beam or a wide beam) was classified as representing easier or more difficult tasks for each child individually. Findings (p ≤ .05) indicated that the facilitation effects of social situations strengthened over age, with spectators producing increments in performance for children of higher skill (especially boys) and decrements in performance for the lower skilled children (both boys and girls). Coaction resulted in positive effects regardless of skill level.