Re-examining the effects of verbal instructional type on early stage motor learning

Bobrownicki, R., MacPherson, A.C., Coleman, S., Collins, D., orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7601-0454 and Sproule, J. (2015) Re-examining the effects of verbal instructional type on early stage motor learning. Human Movement Science, 44 (1). pp. 168-181. ISSN 0167-9457

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The present study investigated the differential effects of analogy and explicit instructions on early stage motor learning and movement in a modified high jump task. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three experimental conditions: analogy, explicit light (reduced informational load), or traditional explicit (large informational load). During the two-day learning phase, participants learned a novel high jump technique based on the ‘scissors’ style using the instructions for their respective conditions. For the single-day testing phase, participants completed both a retention test and task-relevant pressure test, the latter of which featured a rising high-jump-bar pressure manipulation. Although analogy learners demonstrated slightly more efficient technique and reported fewer technical rules on average, the differences between the conditions were not statistically significant. There were, however, significant differences in joint variability with respect to instructional type, as variability was lowest for the analogy condition during both the learning and testing phases, and as a function of block, as joint variability decreased for all conditions during the learning phase. Findings suggest that reducing the informational volume of explicit instructions may mitigate the deleterious effects on performance previously associated with explicit learning in the literature.

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