Motor Skill Acquisition and Performance

There are 4 labs, each should be approximately 1000 words.

ALL lab report assignments are required to use either Times New Roman or Arial font, 12-point font, double-spaced, and all margins being 2.5cm.

Deductions will be incurred if these criteria are not followed OR a marking criteria sheet (found at the back of this course description) is not

included with the assignment.
Students should incorporate APA referencing into the lab report assignment. Each lab should involve at least 3 academic references.

To successfully complete a lab, students must complete the experiment activity and answer the result questions and discussion questions

The result section must include both a written summary of the results as well as a graph. It is important that you interpret the data presented

in any graphs.
The Discussion sections consist of a series of Discussion questions. You must answer all assigned questions. Your responses should include

discussion and critical analysis of the related research and refer to the findings of the lab. The student needs to support their responses with

academic references.

The total word limit per lab report is 1000 words.

It is important that in completing your assignment you support your answers with reference to skill acquisition and motor control literature.

Each lab should involve at least 3 academic references.

Laboratory 1: Performance Curves
Aim: To demonstrate one way of measuring learning.
It is important that practitioners be able to successfully distinguish between performance and learning when working in the field. Performance

refers to the behavioural act of executing a skill at a specific time and in a specific situation. Alternatively, learning refers to changes in

the capability of a person to perform a skill. The difficulty with distinguishing between learning and performance is that learning must be

inferred from a relatively permanent improvement in performance as a result of practice or experience. That is, learning cannot be directly

measured and we must use things like performance to see if someone seems to be learning the skill. When working with an individual we want to

make sure that the skills we are teaching are being learnt, and that the performance is not being misrepresented.
One way we can assess learning is to record performance during the period of time a person practices a skill. A common way to do this is to

illustrate and analyse performance graphically in the form of a performance curve. For any performance curve, the levels of the performance

measure are always on the Y-axis (vertical axis), and the time over which the performance is measured is on the X-axis (horizontal axis).
The task involves throwing tennis balls over their shoulder at a target for 20 trials. Each trial represents throwing the tennis ball 5 times.
Participants are then required to throw the ball using their non-preferred hand over their shoulder at the target. Record the landing position

of each throw. A single trial represents 5 throws. Add up the score of each throw to get a trial score.
Each participant should have 20 trials at the target (100 throws in total).

1. Create a performance curve (i.e., line graph) for the throwing task across the trials.
2.Interpret the results of the lab. Has learning occurred? Was improvement in performance indicated? Were there large inter-trial fluctuations?

How would you describe the shape of the performance curve?

Discussion Questions
1. Explain how the terms performance and learning differ, and why we must infer learning from performance situations?
2. Explain the differences between the four predominant performance curves found in skill acquisition literature? What kind of performance

curves is represented in your results and why?
3. What is a performance plateau? What seems to be the likely reasons a performance plateau occurs in motor skill learning?

Laboratory 2: Bilateral Transfer
Aim: To demonstrate the transfer of learning phenomenon known as bilateral transfer.
Bilateral Transfer is observed when a non-practice limb shows a performance increase for a motor skill as a result of practicing the skill with

the opposite limb. That is, research has demonstrated that when we practice a skill with one limb, there can be improvements demonstrated in the

opposite non-practiced limb. This improvement has been demonstrated for skill performance as well as muscular strength development. In this lab,

bilateral transfer will be demonstrated by practicing a mirror tracing task with the preferred arm and observing whether improvements occurred

in performance on the non-preferred arm, which was not used to practice the task.
Task: Mirror Tracing
Mirror tracing involves moving a pencil within the borders of a prescribed area while being able to observe your hang only by means of a mirror.
The goal of the task is to move through the pathway as quickly as possible but with as few errors as possible. The participant should be told

this goal and that both the amount of time to trace the pattern and the number of errors made will be calculated into the score for the trial.
The pathway can be any shape; however, the typical shape is a six-pointed star.
You should be seated with the star-shaped tracing worksheets in front. Your partner should be holding an object, such as a book, above the table

with it blocking your direct view of your hand. They will also time each trial for you. The mirror should be placed so you can see the

worksheets on the table in the reflection of the mirror but still not them directly. The mirror and the screen covering the hand should be

adjusted until you indicate that these characteristics are satisfied.
To begin a trial, you should place the pencil on one of the stars corners. You should start each trial with the pencil in the lower right point

for the right hand or the lower left point for the left hand. When you are ready, say “Go” at which time your partner should begin timing the

trial. It tends to be easier if you move in a counter-clockwise direction for the right hand or a clockwise direction for the left hand.
It is important that you try to not make any errors by going outside the lines. When an error occurs, you are to return to the pathway as close

to the place where you left. An error is counted as a time when the pencil mark can be observed outside the pathway border. This might be hard

to count on some occasions but make sure you try and record every error made.
A trial is completed when you return the pencil to the place where you began tracing. When this occurs, you should say “Stop” and the timer

should stop timing. Record the amount of time required to complete the tracing. Once you finish one of the pathways, continue with the next.

Make sure you record your time after each trial and count errors at the end. If you have other participants who can be involved, make sure that

the participant completes the full number of trials in a row before swapping over.
The first trial should be done using the non-preferred hand. Then, trials 2 through 6 should be done using the preferred hand. Finally, trial 7

should be done using the non-preferred hand.
Score = 100/(Seconds+Errors)
Note that better performance is designated by a higher score.
E.G. Trial 1 Score = 100/(53+20) Trial 1 Score = 100/73
Trial 1 Score = 1.36

1.Present the results of the lab in a graph (e.g.,line graph )and present the percentage improvement score.
2. Interpret the results of the lab in relation to the aim of the lab (i.e.,what did you actually find). Was there bilateral transfer of


Discussion Questions
1. Define the term transfer of learning. What is bilateral transfer?
2. Define the terms symmetric and asymmetric bilateral transfer. Explain how the
direction of bilateral transfer could influence learning?
3. Discuss two hypotheses that attempt to explain the advantage of bilateral
transfer (e.g. cognitive view and motor views). Which explanation best explains the effects of bilateral learning?

Laboratory 3: Reaction Time and Hick’s Law
Aim: To examine how reaction time (RT) is affected by the number of stimulus and response alternatives.
Hick’s Law is the second law of human behaviour. This law explores the effect that the number of stimulus and response alternatives has on human

Essentially, Hick’s Law states that reaction time increases by nearly an equal amount each time the number of alternatives is doubled (1 to 2 to

4, to 8…). This relationship has become so predictable that it has been formally explained in a mathematical equation.
In sport, there are many occasions where the athlete needs to decide between a number of responses. For example, in Netball, when the centre

steps into the circle to start the game, the player will make a quicker decision if she has a set decision of who to throw the ball to. However,

it will take relatively longer if these options are not available and she has to search for other options.
Task: To sort a pack of cards as quickly as possible. In this lab we will examine the difference in time when there are 1-choice, 2-choice, 4-

choice, and 8-choice options.

Participants will complete a number of card sorting task as quickly as possible. Complete each condition in random order. Each variation will

start with the timer saying “Go” and stop when the last card lands on the pile.
Simple Reaction Time (SRT)
Participants will be required to sort all the cards into one pile.
2-Choice Reaction Time (2-CRT)
Participants will be required to sort all the cards into two piles:
4-Choice Reaction Time (4-CRT)
Participants will be required to sort all the cards into four piles:
8-Choice Reaction Time (8-CRT)
Participants will be required to sort all the cards into eight piles:
2 – 7 HEART
2 – 7 SPADES
2 – 7 CLUBS

1.Present the results of the lab in an appropriate graph.
2.Interpret the results of the lab in relation to the aim of the lab (i.e.,what did we
actually find).

Discussion Questions
1. What is Reaction Time? What does reaction time indicate and what are some of the preparation events that occur during reaction time?
2.Describe three task and situational factors, other than the number of response choices, which influence reaction time (RT).
3. What is the cost-benefit trade-off involved in biasing the preparation of an action in the expectation of making one of several possible

responses? Give a motor skill performance example to illustrate this trade-off

Laboratory 4: Mental Practice

Mental practice (MP) is defined as “cognitive rehearsal of a physical skill in the absence of overt movement” (Magill, 2010). Due to this

definition, MP could incorporate a number of different rehearsal techniques. For example, MP could be merely thinking about the task. Typically,

however, it is thought of as rehearsing a task where the athlete imagines performing the activity. Initially there was reserve regarding the

effectiveness of MP, but more recently, there has been consistent findings demonstrating MP to be a beneficial approach for a number of

different functions. One function that has been demonstrated to be beneficial from MP is learning a technical skill. The function that you are

going to explore in this lab is whether MP is beneficial for learning a technical skill.

Task: The task is to bounce a ball from the floor to a target drawn on the wall using the non-
preferred hand.
Basketball (or similar sized ball)
A target drawn on the wall – The target should consist of three scoring zones. Each
scoring zone will be square. The first zone should be represented by the highest score in the middle to smallest score in the outer circle.
The size of the 3 point zone should 50cm by 50 cm and for the 2 point zone 1m by 1m

The procedure of this lab is to complete a pre-test on the task, followed by ten trials of mental practice of the task and finally, the post-

Pre- and Post-Test
The pre- and post-test will involve the participant bouncing the ball at the target for 10 bounces.
To perform the task, you should hold the ball and stand in a comfortable position around 2.5 metres from the target.
You should then bounce the ball into the ground towards the target using your non- preferred hand
That is, you should throw the ball using your non-preferred hand into the ground and aim that the ball bounces up and hits the middle of the

Add together each of the 10 throws to get an overall performance score.
After you finish the pre-test and before you start the post-test (after the mental
practice trials) you will need to take a 5-10 min break.
Mental Practice
You need to mentally practice performing the task
The mental practice trials will consist of sitting in a quiet area and mentally imaging doing the performance of the 10 trials (remember 1 trial

is ten throws).
During mental practice, do not perform any physical performance of the task.
Try to imagine key characteristics to the performance such as the weight of the ball in
your hand, the effort you need to bounce the ball onto the ground, the sound the ball makes when it hits the ground and then hits the wall and

the view of the ball hitting the wall.
You score the imagery performance of the task by adding together the scores of your 10 imaginary throws (e.g., if you imagine throw 1 hitting a

2, then 3, 1, 2, 1, 3, 2, 3, and lastly 2 then your overall score will be 21).
1. Present the results of the lab in a graph (e.g.,line graph).
2. Interpret the results of the lab in relation to the aim of the lab (i.e.,what did
you actually find). Was there a change in performance based from Mental Practice?
Discussion Questions
1. Define mental practice and describe two roles of mental practice in sport.
2. Discuss the findings of our lab in relation to hypotheses explaining why mental practice is effective (e.g., neuromuscular hypothesis, brain

activity hypothesis,
and cognitive hypothesis).
3. Define imagery ability and discuss why imagery ability might have an effect on
the benefit of mental practice
TRIAL 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
SCORE 1 2 3 3 4 4 3 5 5 6
TRIAL 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
SCORE 6 6 5 6 8 6 7 8 6 8

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