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J Mot Behav. 1985 Sep;17(3):283-99.

Influence of practice schedule on testing schema theory predictions in adults.

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  • 1School of Physical Education and Athletics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, L8S 4K1, Canada.


Since the publication of Schmidt's (1975) schema theory of motor learning, numerous studies have assessed the variability of practice hypothesis. Of these, only research using children as subjects has provided consistent results. Findings from adult studies have been equivocal. Two experiments were conducted to assess the possibility that the schedule of variable practice during acquisition may be a clue to this equivocality, since only experiments (using adults as subjects) that have provide random variability of practice conditions have consistently supported the tenets of schema theory. Using a two movement rapid timing task, subjects learned to control their actions under one (constant) or four (variable) parameters, with variable practice conducted under either a blocked or a randomized schedule. Results for variable error and absolute constant error showed that random-variable practice provided strong support for the schema theory prediction, whereas blocked-variable practice provided only relatively weak support. Two contrasting implications of these results are discussed with respect to support versus non-support for Schmidt' schema theory.

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