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Ryan Sides, Graig Chow and Gershon Tenenbaum

The purpose of this study was to explore adaptation through the manipulation of perceived task difficulty and self-efficacy to challenge the concepts postulated by the two-perception probabilistic concept of the adaptation phenomenon (TPPCA) conceptual framework. Twenty-four randomized performers completed a handgrip and putting task, at three difficulty levels, to assess their self-efficacy and perceived task difficulty interactions on motivations, affect, and performances. The TPPCA was partially confirmed in both tasks. Specifically, as the task difficulty level increased, arousal increased, pleasantness decreased, and the performance declined. There was no solid support that motivational adaptations were congruent with the TPPCA. The findings pertaining to the human adaptation state represent a first step in encouraging future inquiries in this domain. The findings clarify the notion of perceived task difficulty and self-efficacy discrepancy, which then provokes cognitive appraisals and emotional resources to produce an adaptation response.

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Thomas Muehlbauer, Claude Mettler, Ralf Roth and Urs Granacher

The purpose of this study was to compare static balance performance and muscle activity during one-leg standing on the dominant and nondominant leg under various sensory conditions with increased levels of task difficulty. Thirty healthy young adults (age: 23 ± 2 years) performed one-leg standing tests for 30 s under three sensory conditions (ie, eyes open/firm ground; eyes open/foam ground [elastic pad on top of the balance plate]; eyes closed/firm ground). Center of pressure displacements and activity of four lower leg muscles (ie, m. tibialis anterior [TA], m. soleus [SOL], m. gastrocnemius medialis [GAS], m. peroneus longus [PER]) were analyzed. An increase in sensory task difficulty resulted in deteriorated balance performance (P < .001, effect size [ES] = .57−2.54) and increased muscle activity (P < .001, ES = .50−1.11) for all but two muscles (ie, GAS, PER). However, regardless of the sensory condition, one-leg standing on the dominant as compared with the nondominant limb did not produce statistically significant differences in various balance (P > .05, ES = .06−.22) and electromyographic (P > .05, ES = .03−.13) measures. This indicates that the dominant and the nondominant leg can be used interchangeably during static one-leg balance testing in healthy young adults.

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Tobias Vogel and Oliver Genschow

Research on regulatory focus theory (Higgins, 1997) suggests that performance increases if instructions fit with sportspersons’ dispositions. Sportspersons who chronically focus on wins (i.e., promotion-oriented individuals) perform best if instructions frame the objective as a promotion goal (e.g., “Try to hit!”). By contrast, sportspersons who chronically focus on losses (i.e., prevention-oriented individuals) perform best if instructions frame the objective as a prevention goal (e.g., “Try not to miss!”). Recent theorizing also suggests that regulatory focus interacts with task difficulty. In an experiment, we assessed soccer performance as a function of chronic focus, instructional focus, and task difficulty. Results support that task difficulty moderates the effects of fit on performance; fitting instructions to match the sportsperson’s chronic regulatory focus improved performance in the easy rather than the difficult task. Findings are discussed regarding the role of regulatory fit in altering subjective pressure during sports performance.

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Christine M. Habeeb, Robert C. Eklund and Pete Coffee

dyads with asymmetric dependence because the low-dependence athlete has a self-focus and the high-dependence athlete has an other-focus orientation of attention ( Bray et al., 2002 ; Gaudreau et al., 2010 ; Back & Kenny, 2010 ). Finally, in consideration of task-difficulty, asymmetric dependencies

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Bonnie L. Tjeerdsma

The purpose of this study was to directly compare teacher and student expectations for task difficulty and performance, perceptions of actual task difficulty, perceptions of student performance and effort, and perceptions of teacher feedback. Stimulated recall interviews following a 14-lesson volleyball unit were conducted with 8 sixth-grade students and their physical education teacher. The results revealed little congruency between student and teacher perspectives of task difficulty or perceptions of student performance and effort. The students and the teacher agreed the most on expected performance level and the least on perceptions of effort. Such differences in perspectives may be partially explained by the sources of information used by the teacher and students to form their expectations and perceptions. There was somewhat higher agreement between the teacher and students on the purpose of and affective reactions to skill-related feedback.

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Mark Byra and Jayne Jenkins

The purpose of this study was to describe student decision making in the inclusion style of teaching. Two questions helped to guide the investigation: (a) Will learners select from alternative levels of difficulty within a given task? And (b) what is the basis for learner decision making when selecting from alternative levels of difficulty? Forty-two 5th-graders in one school received instruction in striking with a bat for two 30-minute lessons. The learners performed a batting task in three sets of 10 trials in each lesson and made decisions about level of task difficulty. Data sources were the lesson task sheets and transcribed postlesson interviews. The results indicated that 5th-graders (a) select different levels of task difficulty when provided the opportunity, and (b) make task decisions based on perceived success and challenge.

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Glyn C. Roberts and Debbie Pascuzzi

Previous sport attribution studies have generally asked subjects to make attributions for outcomes to the four elements of ability, effort, luck, and task difficulty. These studies have assumed that these elements are the most important causes of outcomes. The present study tested this assumption. An open-ended questionnaire was given to 349 male and female subjects to determine the causal elements used in sport situations. Results showed that the four traditional elements of ability, effort, luck, and task difficulty were used 45% of the time. However, the theory advocated by Weiner (1974) is based on the dimensions of locus of control and stability, and not on the elements per se. When the responses of subjects were content analyzed for dimensional properties, it was concluded that 100% of the responses could be placed within the four cells of the Weiner model. These results support the applicability of the Weiner achievement behavior model to sport environments, but only when careful analysis of causal attributions is made to determine their dimensional relevance. The evidence suggests that situationally relevant elements be included in addition to the traditional elements of ability, effort, luck, and task difficulty.

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Louise Parr-Brownlie, Jeffrey Wickens, J. Greg Anson and Brian Hyland

In the monkey, reaction time in a precued delayed response task was found to be faster when the animals had to remember the precue than when it was continually available (Smyrnis, Taira, Ashe, & Georgopoulos, 1992). We investigated whether this reflects a general principle that applies to all types of precued tasks. However, we found the opposite result in a simpler task in humans. Our findings suggest that the beneficial effect of a memory requirement on reaction time in the monkey may reflect an effect of task difficulty, rather than a fundamental process involved in all precued movement tasks.

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Karen E. French, Judith E. Rink, Linda Rikard, Amys Mays, Susan Lynn and Peter Werner

The purpose was to compare the effectiveness of practice progressions on learning the volleyball serve and overhead set. Ninth-grade students were randomly assigned to three groups. Each group practiced the volleyball serve and set for 60 trials over 6 days. The progression group practiced four levels of difficulty of the set and serve. The criterion group began practice at the beginning level of difficulty and had to achieve an 80% success rate before practicing at a more advanced level. The third group practiced the AAHPERD volleyball skill tests for the serve and set for all 60 trials. At the end of practice, all subjects were posttested using these AAHPERD tests. The results indicated the progression and criterion groups had higher posttest scores than the third group. Profiles of the success rates across acquisition for each group showed that students in the third group and low-skilled students in the progression and criterion groups did not improve during practice. Students with some initial skill in the progression and criterion groups exhibited high success rates for acquisition and improvement. These results indicate that sequencing practice in progressive levels of difficulty enhances retention when task difficulty is appropriate for the learner. However, no condition was effective when task difficulty was inappropriate for the learner.

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Robert Kerr and Kathy Hughes

Results of recent research have implicated information processing deficits in explaining the poor academic performance of learning disabled children. However, the motor difficulties of these children have not been extensively studied from a processing framework, yet cognitive skills are inherent to the successful performance of motor skills. Sixteen learning disabled and sixteen control subjects ranging in age from 6 to 8 years were tested on a Fitts’ reciprocal tapping task using 16 different target combinations with the ID ranging from 1.50 to 6.64 bits. Analysis of the slope and intercept coefficients showed a significant difference for intercept but not for slope. These data suggest that the problem may not be a major processing deficit, as the learning disabled children were able to handle the increased task difficulty in the same manner as the controls. Instead the problem may exist at the very early input stage of the processing mechanism: getting the information into the system.