Chapter 3 …Motor Abilities “how come you make that look so easy?” Is there such a thing as a “motor moron”?
Terminology Ability: –“A general trait or capacity of an individual that helps determine a person’s achievement potential for the performance of specific skills” p.16
Individual difference variables From this point of view… –People’s potential for success is at least partly determined by whether or not they possess certain key abilities –This can explain why 2 people given similar amounts of training perform so differently
Individual difference variables 2 hypotheses: –General motor abilities hypothesis Motor abilities are highly related to one another If you’re good at one skill, you’re good at all –Specific motor abilities hypothesis Motor abilities are relatively independent of each other Success with each skill dependent on possession of the abilities supporting that skill
Individual difference variables 2 hypotheses: –General motor abilities hypothesis LowHigh High Low Performance on task B Performance on task A
Individual difference variables 2 hypotheses: –Specific motor abilities hypothesis LowHigh High Low Performance on task B Performance on task A
Individual difference variables 2 hypotheses: –Which one is best? Drowatzky & Zuccato (see p.18, table 2.1): –6 balance tasks, all performed by same set of people –Performance on tasks unrelated to each other –These kinds of findings tend to support which hypothesis?
Individual difference variables The all-around athlete –If abilities are independent, how can we explain the fact that some people seem to be good at everything they turn their hands to?
Identifying motor abilities This is pretty important, if we are to critique the idea of abilities… The notion of abilities is based mostly on research from the latter half of the 20 th century (Fleishman & Quaintance, 1984) The studies went something like this…
Identifying motor abilities What is the research supposed to examine? –EG: This graph shows fictional data for the amount of variation in performance of 4 skills that is explained by each of 3 abilities
Identifying motor abilities Take Fleishman (1957) as an example: Take a large number of people (200) Have them perform a large number of motor tasks (18) –Group the tasks into factors, according to how performance varies on each task (so people tending to perform well at one task perform well at others loading on the same factor) –The idea is to identify as few factors as possible to account for as much variation in performance on the tasks as possible –We can get an idea of this by looking at the factor table…
Factor Matrix (from Fleishman, 1957) – partially reproduced for instructional purposes Variable Factors IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIX 1. Instrument comprehension.18.22.13 2. Reaction time.60-.15-.03 3. Rate of movement.43.19-.06 4. Pattern comprehension.12.66.07 5. Mechanical principles.03.53.52 6. General principles.05.19.65 7. Speed of identification.27.44.17 8. Visual pursuit.14.23.05 9. Complex coordination trials 1-5.05.35.26 10. Complex coordination trials 12-126.96.36.199 11. Complex coordination trials 49-188.8.131.52 12. Complex coordination trials 60-184.108.40.206 13. Rotary pursuit.28.15 14. Plane control.16.07.28 15. Kinesthetic coordination-.01-.16.28 16. Unidimensional matching.14.16.14 17. Two-handed matching.16.21.15 18. Discrimination reaction time.28.24.20 The idea is to name the factors according to what types of task “load” on them These are the only tasks to “load” on factor IV. The factor was called “Mechanical Experience” If tasks like ball bouncing, juggling, & catching all loaded together, we might use a label like “eye-hand coordination” to name the factor
Identifying motor abilities The actual factors Fleishman came up with are listed on pp. 43-45 of your text The important idea to grasp is that these factors all explained some variation in performance of a number of motor tasks The actual list compiled will be dependent on the tasks used to compile it
Other types of abilities Ackerman (1988) –General intelligence –Perceptual speed –Psychomotor Decreasing reliance on cognition This is the one we’ve been discussing
Another interpretation... Can we apply a different interpretation to the emergence of separable abilities? Probably: Imagine that you begin life with a set of potentials for certain behaviors –Importantly, the limits of these potentials are not set at birth Certain things about you do seem built into your DNA, but even things like body size are just ‘potentials’ The potentials for motor skills could be modeled as basins of attraction for those behaviors, like this…
Practice makes perfect? As soon as you begin to experience the world physically, you will change the depth and form of these basins of attraction Continued experience results in continued changes to the basins, and therefore continued changes of our potential behaviors.
Practice makes perfect? There is also a tendency for “positive feedback”… –…The fact that we will tend to gravitate towards things that we can already do –So early experience (and success) at something will tend to result in greater practice, and more success Over time, the experience accumulated is enormous, and the basins become quite resistant to change (stable) –Hence they have become what we understand as abilities
Practice makes perfect? So what does that imply about abilities? –They exist –But they are not a sign of “natural” talent –Talent is anything but natural – it’s hard graft and determined practice –So what does that mean for educators?
Practice makes perfect? Ultimately, that could lead to some pretty complex inter-relationships among tasks and capabilities to perform/learn them –For instance…