Monday, May 04, 2015

Motor skills learning – key factors

Another more recent article by Wulf:
Wulf, G., Shea, C., & Lewthwaite, R. (2010). Motor skilllearning and performance: A review of influential factors. Medical Education, 44, 75-84.

This is a shorter article than the one on last weeks’ blog. The article discusses motor skills learning as contextualized to the learning of medical / surgery skills. Observational practice, focus of attention, feedback and self-controlled practice are all summarized.

A very useful article providing the salient findings from the large volume of work on motor skills learning. As much research on motor skills learning in based on laboratory studies, this article, providing examples / applications warrants study. The article from last week’s blog provides greater detail and much more in-depth discussion for those who are interested in pursuing the topic further.

To summarise:

Observational practice, especially if combined with physical practice, is an important component of mimetic practice. Observational practice not only important as a visual introduction to the motor movements, but also of the goals of movement, the subtle and coordinative actions that are part of complex task completion.  Observation provides time for the learner to undertake some reflection on the tasks, before actual trial / performance.

Recommends the use of dyad practice – i.e. practice in pairs as it generates opportunities for both to observe and to practice while observed. So learner not only tries motor action, but has someone to provide timely feedback on performance.

Focus of attentions should be ‘external’ on the goal / task rather than ‘internal’ on placement, movement itself. So, for baking example, when piping out cream rosettes, focus on producing the rosettes to requirements (size, shape, each rosette the same, etc.) rather than amount of pressure exerted from hand holding the piping bag.

Positive feedback much more effective than negative. So learners’ goals become focused on good practice rather than trying to correct ‘mistakes’.

Self-controlled practice refers to learners setting their own goals, rather than trying to meet instructor-set goals. Learner choice as to how to practice and what to practice, leads to better attainment of motor skills in the long term. 

No comments: