Title page for ETD etd-06142007-121955

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Wu, Wilbur Fong Wah
Author's Email Address willwu8@gmail.com
URN etd-06142007-121955
Title Self-Control of Learning Multiple Motor Skills
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Kinesiology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Richard Magill Committee Chair
Craig Harvey Committee Member
Dennis Landin Committee Member
Melinda Solmon Committee Member
Mike Hawkins Dean's Representative
  • motor learning
  • motor skills
  • practice schedules
  • self-regulation
  • self-controlled learning
  • learner control
Date of Defense 2007-05-15
Availability unrestricted
Learning is commonly referred to as a “two-way street” between the learner and instructor. Until recently, learning has been studied using a “one-way” approach in which numerous studies have explored learning in situations where the experimenter or instructor shapes the practice environment. A number motor learning studies have shown the effectiveness of the learners’ abilities to control various aspects within their learning environment. Studies on augmented feedback (Chiviacowsky & Wulf, 2002; Janelle, Kim, & Singer, 1995), observational learning (Wulf, Raupach, & Pfeiffer, 2005), and physical assistance devices (Wulf & Toole, 1999) have found that learning is enhanced when individuals are able to control the schedule of feedback and the schedule of model observations, and when to use physical assistance devices.

Three experiments explored the generalizability of self-controlled learning on practice schedules when learning multiple tasks. Experiment 1 explored the learning differences between a group that was given the option to choose which task to practice within the practice session and a group that was given a predetermined schedule of practice. The results revealed no significant differences. Experiment 2 further explored the effect of self-control on practice schedules: the purpose was not only to investigate the learning benefits of self-control over a predetermined practice schedule, but also how participants choose within their learning environment. Results revealed that the self-control group outperformed a yoked group on a delayed transfer test. In addition, self-control participants chose to switch tasks after “good trials” and created schedules that gradually increased the amount of contextual interference as practice progressed. Finally, Experiment 3 sought to determine if the learning benefit of self-control was caused by self-regulatory processes or attributable to choice within the practice environment. This was done by comparing a group that chose their practice schedule before practice began to a self-control group that chose which task to practice during the practice session. The results revealed that the group that chose tasks during practice outperformed the group that chose their practice schedule before the practice began. Experiment 3 demonstrated that self-regulation was the underlying mechanism for the enhanced learning benefits seen in previous studies of self-control.

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