Effects of the Model's Skill Level on Observational Motor Learning
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Observation of a model prior to physical practice often facilitates the acquisition of motor skills. The majority of research studies on observational motor learning has used a skilled model for the demonstration. Recent research, however, suggests that observing an unskilled (learning) model may also be effective. The experiment reported here compared motor skill acquisition following observation of a learning model or a skilled model to the performance of subjects who lacked the benefit of observation. The task was to play a computer tracking game. Subjects were tested in pairs. Observers watched either a skilled or a learning model perform 3 trials. The observers then practiced the game for 3 trials. Observation of another 12 trials was followed by 12 more practice trials. Substantial observational learning was found, as both groups of observers performed better than the learning models after both the 3 initial trials of observation and after 12 more observation trials. However, there were no differences due to observing the skilled or the learning model. These findings are discussed in relation to theoretical issues of observational learning.
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