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The Influence of Analogy Instructions on Motor Skills: Processing, Preference and Performance

When teaching a movement to novices, communicating knowledge about the movement by comparison with a similar, well-known concept (an analogy) may be effective, as no other verbal instructions or rules need to be provided. The aim of this PhD thesis was to investigate the potential underlying mechanisms that influence motor performance after analogy instruction. This may help guide the development of appropriate and useful analogies in clinical and other practical settings. Five chapters discuss experiments conducted in early learning of complex motor skills. In order to investigate the mechanism of analogy learning in children, Chapter 2 investigated children’s acquisition of a golf-chipping task. We asked whether an analogy presented after initial, explicit practice has an influence on performance, and whether this effect is moderated by the propensity to consciously control the mechanics of one’s movements (movement specific reinvestment). Movement-specific reinvestment predicted improvement in chipping accuracy after introduction of the analogy, indicating that children’s motor learning by analogy may depend on personal characteristics associated with conscious control. A reliable and objective measure to deduct underlying conscious processes during movement is electroencephalography (EEG). Chapter 3 explored the relationship between working memory (WM) capacity, cortico-cortical communication (EEG high-alpha power and coherence), and propensity for conscious control of movement (movement specific reinvestment) during novice performance of a complex motor task. Results revealed that the capacity for short-term storage and processing of visuo-spatial information is an important factor in early motor control. Analogies allegedly reduce reliance on verbal information processes during motor planning, which is a feature of psychomotor efficiency. In Chapter 4, we investigated whether analogy instructions promote higher psychomotor efficiency, characterised by greater high-alpha power in the left hemisphere of the brain and reduced coactivation between the verbal processing (T7) and motor planning regions of the brain (Fz) during motor performance. Hockey push-pass accuracy during a combined task (passing coupled with decision-making) was significantly better following practice using an analogy instruction compared to explicit instructions, and left-temporal EEG high-alpha power was significantly higher in the analogy condition. The analogy instruction may have influenced verbal aspects of information processing without impacting on efficiency of motor planning, and may thus promote cognitive, rather than psychomotor, efficiency. Individual characteristics of information processing may have an influence on how analogy instructions are interpreted and used. Chapters 5 and 6 investigated the associations between analogy learning and verbal or visuomotor processing as measured by EEG coherence, visual-verbal instruction preference, and performance. While Chapter 5 tentatively suggests that analogy learning may be of greater benefit to people who tend to rely on visual processes during motor planning, Chapter 6 suggests that changes in information processing (measured by EEG high-alpha power) and in performance after analogy instruction, depended on verbal preference. The findings are discussed with respect to the implicit motor learning framework and theories of movement automaticity. The thesis is rounded off by suggesting future studies and providing some guidelines for the use of analogy instructions in different groups of learners.
Type of thesis
van Duijn, T. (2018). The Influence of Analogy Instructions on Motor Skills: Processing, Preference and Performance (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11842
The University of Waikato
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