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Steven G. Zecker

Although mental practice has often been demonstrated to result in improved learning of a motor skill, theoretical accounts of the reasons for this improvement are lacking. The present experiment examined the role of knowledge of results (KR) in motor skill learning, because KR is believed to be crucial to such learning, yet is lacking during mental practice. Subjects in four conditions (mental practice, physical practice, physical practice without KR, and control), tossed beanbags at a target. Results showed that of the four conditions, mental practice showed the largest performance increment, whereas physical practice showed a decrement attributed to massed practice without adequate rest periods. Results suggest that (a) knowledge of results is not always essential for improved performance; (b) mental practice is most beneficial following sufficient experience with the task; and (c) mental practice may be best suited for a massed practice learning situation.

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Mike Gillespie

The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of a summary knowledge of results (KR) feedback schedule (KR after every fifth trial) versus every-trial KR on the acquisition and retention of a golf putting task for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Thirty-two individuals with mild intellectual disabilities were randomly assigned to either a summary or every-trial KR group. Participants performed 50 acquisition trials, 25 one-day retention trials, and 25 one-week retention trials. Participants in the every-trial KR group scored significantly better during acquisition, while the summary KR group performed significantly better for both retention intervals. Because of the absence of an acquisition block effect, results relative to learning must be viewed with caution. Findings partially support the guidance hypothesis.

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Michael Carter, Scott Rathwell and Diane Ste-Marie

Investigations into the strategies that are used by participants when they control their knowledge of results (KR) schedule during practice have predominantly relied on multiple-choice questionnaires. More recently, open-ended questions have been used to allow participants to produce their own descriptions rather than selecting a strategy from a predetermined list. This approach has in fact generated new information about the cognitive strategies used by learners to request KR during practice (e.g., Laughlin et al., 2015). Consequently, we examined strategy use in self-controlled KR learning situations using open-ended questions at two different time points during practice. An inductive thematic content analysis revealed five themes that represented participants’ unique strategies for requesting KR. This analysis identified two dominant KR strategies: “establish a baseline understanding” in the first half of practice and “confirm a perceived good trial” in the second half of practice. Both strategies were associated with superior retention compared with a yoked group, a group that was unable to engage in KR request strategies because KR was imposed rather than chosen. Our results indicate that the learning advantages of self-controlled KR schedules over yoked schedules may not only depend on what strategy is used, but also when it is used.

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Cassio M. Meira Jr and Jeffrey T. Fairbrother

provided by an external source (teacher or researcher) and may focus on the outcome (knowledge of results – split times from a wristwatch) or the technique (knowledge of performance—a dance teacher nudges a pupil’s arm to indicate its right position) ( Magill & Anderson, 2015 ; Schmidt & Lee, 2011

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Jeff E. Goodwin

Research on knowledge of results (KR), augmented, verbal, terminal error information about movement response outcome, has generated numerous investigations which focused on motor skill acquisition, retention, and transfer (see Magill, 2001 ; Salmoni, Schmidt, & Walter, 1984 ; Wulf & Shea, 2004

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Niilo Konttinen, Kaisu Mononen, Jukka Viitasalo and Toni Mets

This study examined the effectiveness of augmented auditory feedback on the performance and learning of a precision shooting task. Participants included Finnish conscripts (N = 30) who were randomly assigned to one of three groups: auditory feedback group (AFb), knowledge-of-results group (KR), and nontraining control group (Control). Data collection consisted of a pretest, a 4-week acquisition phase, a posttest, and two tests of retention. The effectiveness of the treatment was evaluated in terms of performance outcome, i.e., shooting result. Concurrent auditory feedback related to rife stability did not facilitate shooting performance in a practice situation. In the posttest and retention tests, the participants in the AFb group displayed more accurate shooting performance than those in the KR and Control groups. Findings suggest that a non-elite shooter’s performance can be improved with a 4-week auditory feedback treatment. Given that the learning advantage persisted for delayed retention tests, the observed improvement in skill acquisition was due to relatively permanent variables rather than to temporary effects.

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Suzete Chiviacowsky and Helena Thofehrn Lessa

Granting learners autonomy over certain aspects of the practice context—for example, by providing them with the opportunity to choose when to receive augmented feedback or observe a model—has been consistently shown to facilitate the acquisition of motor skills in several populations. However, studies investigating the provision of autonomy support to older adults remain scarce. The purpose of the present experiment was to investigate the effects of providing choice over feedback on motor learning in older adults. Participants were divided into two groups, choice and no-choice, and practiced 36 trials of a linear positioning task. Before each block of six trials, participants from the choice group were given the choice to control, or not, when to receive feedback in the block. No-choice group participants received feedback according to the same schedule as their choice group counterparts, but they could not choose when to receive it. Two days later, participants of both groups performed retention and transfer tests. The choice group demonstrated lower absolute error scores during transfer compared with the no-choice group. The findings reinforce outcomes of previous autonomy support studies and provide the first evidence that choice over feedback can enhance the learning of motor skills in older adults.

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Jed A. Diekfuss and Louisa D. Raisbeck

An external focus of attention, as opposed to an internal focus of attention, has been shown to increase performance and enhance learning. However, little research has examined whether these findings have been integrated into collegiate coaching and adopted by student-athlete performers. The purpose of this study was to examine the verbal instructions and instructional feedback provided by NCAA division 1 collegiate coaches during practice and how it influenced student-athletes’ focus of attention during competition. Thirty-one student-athletes completed a questionnaire that inquired about coaches’ verbal instructions and instructional feedback during practice and student-athletes’ focus of attention during competition. Fifty percent of participants reported that their coaches instructed them to focus their attention internally and only four participants reported that their coaches instructed them to focus externally. Our results also showed that coaches provided an equal amount of internal and external instructional feedback. During competition, however, the majority of participants reported statements that fell under the category of “winning and strategy.” These results suggest that the beneficial effects of an external focus of attention have not been integrated into NCAA division 1 collegiate coaching and the focus of attention adopted by student-athletes may be more complex than what is studied in laboratory research.

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Suzete Chiviacowsky and Ricardo Drews

In this experiment, we investigated the motivational effects of feedback on motor learning observing the impact of temporal-comparison feedback on the learning of a coincident timing task. Two groups of participants, a positive (PTC) and a negative temporal-comparison group (NTC), received veridical feedback about their accuracy scores after every other practice trial (50%). In addition, after each block of 10 trials, the PTC group was given bogus feedback suggesting that their average performance was better than it was in the previous block, while the NTC group received bogus feedback suggesting that their average performance was worse than it was in the previous block. A retention test was performed one day after the practice phase, without feedback, to observe learning effects. In addition, after the practice phase and before the retention test, all participants filled out questionnaires to report their self-efficacy levels. The results demonstrate that temporal-comparison feedback affects the learning of motor skills. Participants of the PTC group showed greater timing accuracy and reported higher self-efficacy levels than the NTC group on the retention test. The findings further support the important motivational role of feedback for motor learning.