Title page for ETD etd-04042008-112837

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Porter, Jared Marak
Author's Email Address jporte5@lsu.edu, jared_porter@hotmail.com
URN etd-04042008-112837
Title Systematically Increasing Contextual Interference Is Beneficial for Learning Novel Motor Skills
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Kinesiology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Magill, Richard A Committee Chair
Landin, Dennis K Committee Member
Mathews, Robert C Committee Member
Solmon, Melinda A Committee Member
Richardson, Hettie A Dean's Representative
  • schedule
  • generalized motor program
  • practice
Date of Defense 2008-03-31
Availability unrestricted
Traditionally, contextual interference (CI) has been investigated by the use of extreme low and high levels of CI (blocked and random practice schedules); with results generally suggesting that higher rather than lower amounts of CI facilitated motor skill learning (Magill & Hall, 1990). To better understand the CI effect, two experiments were conducted investigating an alternative form of practice schedule. Practice using this alternative schedule provided novices experiences with systematic increases in CI, which were compared to traditional blocked and random scheduling. Experiment 1 tested the hypothesis that practicing variations of the same tasks with systematic increases in CI would lead to superior performance when practicing the same tasks in a blocked or random schedule. Participants (N=60) practiced a golf putting task at three distances for a total of 81 trials following either a blocked, random, or increasing practice schedule. The increasing schedule had participants practice the first 27 trials with blocked scheduling, followed by 27 serial trials, practice then concluded with 27 trials of random scheduling. Results showed that participants who followed the increasing schedule generally performed better on a retention and transfer test when compared to participants practicing the same tasks following blocked and random schedules.

The purpose of Experiment 2 was to test if the learning benefits of an increasing schedule were limited to variations of the same task or if the benefits were generalizable to tasks with different invariant features, thus being controlled by different generalized motor programs (GMP). In this experiment novice participants (N=96) practiced three different basketball related passes (chest, overhead, single arm). Using methods similar to Experiment 1, participants practiced the three passes in a blocked, random, or increasing schedule for 81 trials. Results showed that participants who practiced with gradual increases in CI generally performed better on a retention and transfer test compared to participants who practiced with traditional blocked or random scheduling. The results of these two experiments indicate that a practice schedule offering systematic increases in CI facilitates skill learning and these learning benefits are generalizable to tasks controlled by the same or different GMPs.

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