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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.