Hodges, N. J., & Franks, I. M. (2001). Learning a coordination skill: Interactive effects of instruction and feedback. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 72, 132-142.

Four groups of eight gender-balanced individuals practiced a difficult coordination pattern on a computer screen. Correct shapes were illustrated when Ss' arms (elbow joints) were moved correctly. Either how the limbs moved (limb-feedback) or how correct were the circles being drawn (circle feedback) was provided in the presence or absence of instructions to differentiate the four groups.

The task environment was important during acquisition and final performance conditions in determining whether instructions would benefit or hinder learning the movements. Providing instructions and movement demonstrations detailing how to perform were not helpful to acquisition when feedback was available. Instructions actually interfered with performance. It was suggested this could have been due to instructions hindering Ss from breaking from pre-existing, unwanted behaviors. Concurrent feedback was particularly helpful in learning the limb-positioning skill. Terminal feedback was not as effective as concurrent feedback but was still more effective than instructions.

The authors stated:

"In light of these findings and recent investigations of acquiring dual-limb movements, traditional ideas concerning optimal instructional techniques for the acquisition of these types of skills need to be reexamined." (p. 141)

Implications. There are several implications that should be considered by coaches and teachers.

  1. It is best to concentrate instructional techniques on the provision of as much concurrent feedback as possible.
  2. The provision of terminal feedback, when concurrent feedback is not possible or is difficult, is still better than instructions for skill learning.
  3. Repetitive instructions have limited informational value and instead of aiding learning, actually slow learning, possibly because they restrict individuals from exploring better or more-suited strategies for performing the skill.

Teachers and coaches would do well to concentrate on providing concurrent feedback in the skill acquisition phases of motor tasks, rather than "instructing."

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