To better understand learning, the research and experimentation was conducted by a student. The purpose of this study was to examine a novice learner performing a skill, in which improvement, retention, consistency, adaptability and stages of learning would be tested. The individual chose juggling three beanbags for the skill to be learned. The subject had to learn how to juggle three beanbags at once using both hands. Practice was completed in one way to keep consistency; this included throwing small beanbags standing up in the same room.
Hypothesis of the experimenter suggested greatest improvement of skill in the beginning to middle of testing. Learning would be accomplished. An increase in practice time and intensity would need to occur for additional improvement. Putting learning into perspective, “Fitts and Posner Theory” will help explain three basic stages of learning; verbal-cognitive, motor-associative, and autonomous. Verbal-cognitive is the earliest stage of learning.
Characteristics of the novice stage include: high concentration during movement, fatigue which reduces degrees of freedom and performance, the learner needs feedback and correction, and verbal cues are often necessary for learning. The second stage of learning, motor-associative, is where performance is most improved. Characteristics of this stage include: feedback is acknowledged, but cannot be physically corrected, fundamental movements are established, degrees of freedom are increased, and diversification of skill is completed to improve learning.
The last stage of learning, according to “Fitts and Posner’s theory”, is the autonomous stage. Learning is unconscious, which means cognitive thought is not needed when completing movement. Other characteristics of the autonomous stage include: exploiting degrees of freedom, focusing on the most relevant stimuli, and error correction. Three stages of learning are accomplished in progressive order with the first two stages attainable in a matter of days or weeks, while the last stage often takes years to achieve. Research showed the individual went through the first two stages of learning.
During the beginning baseline session, first stage of learning was evident because when the beanbags were tossed or thrown towards the other hand inaccurately, it caused inconsistent scores. With practice, the student progressed to the second stage of learning. Juggling became more accurate, easier, and scores improved. Recognition of errors became apparent because written evidence by the individual stated error detection, but individual did not know how to make physical correction. The student felt more comfortable with juggling motion and became confident in ability.
After practice session 6, results plateaued and showed individual performance unable to increase unless practice habits intensified. Four ways to measure motor learning were administered to understand test results. First, the student plotted performance curves on graphs to observe improvement. Second, retention of skill was measured to decrease performance variables and to measure persistence of skill across time. Third, transfer of skill was used to obtain skill adaptable results. Learner was able to transfer skill of juggling beanbags to apples.
Fourth, statistics were calculated to find standard deviation, which showed consistency of skill learning. Methods To complete the juggling experiment, the student used the same three beanbags to perform the skill. All sessions were performed in the same room with closed windows and closed door to prevent environmental distractions. The number of catches were counted as measurements and errors were non catches. Measurements were accurate each baseline, retention, practice, transfer and performance sessions of experiment.
The independent variable was practice. Learner tried to keep throwing motion and hand motion the same for each trial for maximum learning. Scoring was also similar throughout each trial. After each catch there was a score of one. Although the scores were very low, after the eight weeks, the number or score increased dramatically with more practice. The dependent variables were the catches and errors made. Baseline session, no practice of skill prior to session, was first recorded to observe students’ ability before practice.
Juggling practice consisted of fifteen and thirty minute daily practice sessions depending on learner’s daily schedule. Eight hours of practice were to be completed by end of motor learning experiment. Practice was conducted in one certain way to better show the learning evidence. Standing in the same room, facing the same way, closed doors and windows. After practice completion of one full hour, student waited fifteen minutes before conducting a performance session. Total of eight performance sessions were collected throughout experiment.
Retention session was tested five days after eighth performance session to measure persistence of learning. Transfer session was also conducted to measure adaptability of skill to other versions of skill. Data from baseline, performance, retention, and transfer sessions was recorded on paper by the learner, and then transferred into Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word for further analysis. Results were put into a formula and answers were plotted on graphs to observe student learner. Standard deviation was also calculated to observe consistency of student learning.
The purpose of this study was to measure stages of learning, improvement, consistency, retention, and adaptability results of a novice learning. Juggling was tested in the learner and, as hypothesized, the learner achieved highest learning in the beginning to middle of testing. Learning was based on results from data collection, analysis, and comparison of baseline, performance, transfer, and retention sessions. Baseline session and retention session scores were put into the formula, [(A-B) / A)] x 100, to see how much learning occurred during testing.
According to the calculation of grade mean performance, 70% of juggling was learned when baseline session was compared to retention session. The same formula also compared performance session one to performance session eight and performance session eight to a transfer session. Performance session one compared to performance session eight showed how much the learner improved skill during experiment, which was 57% improvement. Results from other test statistics, consistency and improvement, also confirmed student learning.
Standard deviation was calculated to depict consistency for all eight performance sessions, baseline session, and retention session. The closer the number was to zero, the more consistent the learner’s accuracy. Calculations showed highest standard deviation to be 1. 83 in performance session three while the lowest was . 95 in performance session four confirming consistent results in improvement over the course of skill learning. Graphs showed how improvement was displayed by grade mean performances of all eight performance sessions, baseline session, retention session, and transfer session.
Grade mean performance was found by adding up scores from all ten trials in each session and dividing the number by ten trials. Based on data collection and analysis, the student learned the motor skill of juggling. According to results, the learner progressed through the first stage of learning, verbal-cognitive, and reached a plateau at the second stage of learning, motor-associative. The first stage of learning is where the student began skill of juggling. Gripping and throwing the beanbags took high concentration and precision to accurately toss to the other hand.
Trials 8, 9, and 10 in performance sessions one and two were difficult for the learner because fatigue became a factor in creating poor performance. Feedback and correction was evident in which the learner cognitively replayed performance in order to improve. With practice, the learner began learning the correct hand motions to have better aim. As the learner improved, progress was made to the second stage of learning. The most improvement occurred in performance sessions two through four.
Learner became accustomed to tossing the beanbags to the other hand without a lot of thought. Error detection was easily made, but correction was still difficult for the learner to correct. Repetition of skill improved performance and learner became comfortable making the hand movements and creating less errors. Scores of accuracy rose until performance session six, where learner reached a plateau. Plateau was reached, but can possibly be avoided with intense, diverse practice and experience. Another model of motor learning, “Vereijkens”, can be used to see if student learned.
Vereijkens model” involves three stages of learning; freezing degrees of freedom, releasing degrees of freedom, and exploiting degrees of freedom. The first two stages can be related to how the student learned to throw bags to the opposite hand. The learner began in the freezing degrees of freedom stage. Upper body momentum of student was also used to throw dart at a more specific area of the dartboard. Improvement in scores resulted from the learner detecting errors in practice. The individual, however, could not correct errors without guidance.
Accuracy increased with more mobility movement in arm. The last stage, exploiting degrees of freedom, was not seen by the learner. Stages of learning, improvement, student consistency of learning, retention ability, and adaptability all confirmed student learning. The learner hypothesis held true, in which improvement would occur greatly from beginning to middle testing stages. Experience and repetition is needed to attain high levels of learning and retain ability. The study showed how learning can be attained through practice and persistence of doing a skill.
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