Advisor(s) - Committee Chair
Daniel Parker, Sebastiano Fisicaro, John O'Connor
Department of Psychology
Master of Arts
The focus of this study was on motor learning, or the human learning of movement. It is well documented that physical or mental practice of a motor skill followed by an adequate rest period can enhance subsequent performance of that skill. The literature shows that transfer of skill acquisition occurs as a function of the similarity of physical practice trials and the criterion task. In this study mental practice trials wele substituted for physical practice trials. It was hypothesized that the transfer of skill acquisition would also occur as a function of the similarity of mental practice trials and the criterion task. A crucial element in the transfer of skill acquisition is the existence of an adequate rest period. Without that rest period, work decrement will not dissipate and subsequent performance will be depressed. It was the author's contention that task similarity not only affects the transfer of skill acquisition, but also the transfer of work decrement. Thus, a second hypothesis was that the intertask transfer of work decrement would occur as a function of the similarity of the mental practice trials and the criterion task. These hypotheses were examined via the use of a rotory pursuit task. College students practiced this rotary pursuit task at either 30. 45, or 60 revolutions per minute (rpm). Then all subjects performed the criterion task at 45 rpm. Half of the subjects practicing at each speed received a rest period between practice and criterion trials, and half of the subjects did not. On the average, these experimental groups performed the criterion task much more successfully than control groups, who received no practice at all. This finding reaffirmed the utility of mental practice in the enhancement of physical performance. Of the groups that received rest periods, the greatest degree of skill acquisition was demonstrated when the subjects practiced and performed at 45 rpm. Less transfer of skill was demonstrated in the other two rest groups. This supports the first hypothesis of intertask transfer of skill acquisition as a function of task similarity between the mental practice trials and physical performance trials. Of the groups that received no rest periods, the maximum amount of work decrement was obtained when subjects practiced at 30 rpm. The other two no-rest groups demonstrated equal levels of performance. Thus, the second hypothesis of intertask transfer of work decrement as a function of task similarity between mental practice trials and physical performance trials was not supported. This unexpected finding was discussed as a joint function of (a) a miscalculation of the relative amounts of skill acquisition transfer and work decrement transfer and (b) varying degrees of task difficulty.
Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences
White, William, "Intertask Transfer of Skill Acquisition & Work Decrement as a Function of Degree of Task Similarity between Mental Practice Trials & Physical Performance" (1981). Masters Theses & Specialist Projects. Paper 2973.