Skill acquisition

Our research into motor skill acquisition can be broadly divided into 4 main areas, although these are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

1. Observational learning/Action observation

In the past, we have selectively occluded or made salient, particular features of the action (such as relative motion information or end-point features) in order to answer questions about what information is extracted from demonstrations. We have also used visual gaze tracking and cognitive probes to help us determine where people are looking at people think they are picking up and learning from observation (such as strategies, key focus points). We have used a number of different environments to study how people learn from observation, including coordination tasks, virtual (visually-rotated) environments and sports-related tasks (soccer, cricket, juggling).  More information can be determined about our past and current research from a search of the publications.


2. Instruction and feedback

An interest in augmented information in general (i.e., not normally available, added information) has been a common theme of our lab. research. Although primarily the information of interest has been visual, in the form of demonstrations, we have also studied instructional effects with respect to verbal and written instructions as well as post-performance feedback. We have been interested in determining how instructions in general can change the process of skill acquisition and the implications of different types of instructions for performance under different transfer conditions or contexts. Video feedback technologies have been used to manipulate the information provided (back) to the performer and learning is assessed through changes in outcome success and movement kinematics.

3. Practice conditions

The goal of this line of research is to explore optimal conditions for practice with reference to such variables as practice variability and self-control.  More recently we have started to look at how partners moderate the learning experience of individuals, to better understand the social nature of learning and what is shared


4. Coordination skills

In this research the aim is to understand how vision, task sharing and active vs. passive guidance plays a role in the performance and acquisition of complex motor skills. A coordination paradigm has been adopted to examine the learning process and the types of constraints which limit (and encourage) acquisition and performance across individuals of varying levels of ability.