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.
The authors are with the School of Physical Education, Federal University of Pelotas, Pelotas, RS, Brazil.