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Giving learners a choice over how to schedule practice benefits motor learning. Here we studied peer scheduling to determine whether this benefit is related to the adaptive nature of practice or decisions about how to switch between skills. Forty-eight participants were paired and assigned to self- or peer-scheduled groups. Within each pair, one person (Actor) physically practiced 3 keystroke sequences, each with different timing goals. Self-scheduled Actors chose the sequence before each practice trial while their Partner watched. Peer-scheduled Actors had their practice directed by their Partner. Both peer schedulers and self-schedulers showed performance-dependent practice, making decisions to switch based on timing error. However, peer schedulers generally chose to switch more than self-schedulers although this was not related to retention for either group. Importantly, self-scheduled Actors did not differ in retention from peer-scheduled Actors, but the Actors generally performed with lower error in retention than that of their partners. Peer-scheduled practice was rated as more motivating and enjoyable than self-scheduled practice. In view of the lack of difference in retention and the positive ratings of peer-scheduled practice, we conclude that it is the adaptive nature of practice that is important for learning and that peer-directed practice is an effective alternative practice method to self-directed practice.
April Karlinsky and Nicola J. Hodges are with the School of Kinesiology at The University of British Columbia. Address author correspondence to Nicola J. Hodges at firstname.lastname@example.org.