UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Target Size Manipulations Affect Error-Processing Duration and Success Perceptions but not Behavioural Indices of Learning Ong, Nicole T.; Hawke, Jamie; Hodges, Nicola J.


We evaluated if and how success perceptions, through target size manipulations, impact processes related to motor learning. This work was based on recent literature suggesting that expectations and self-efficacy exert a direct impact on learning. We measured arousal, kinematics, learner expectancies, motivation, and outcomes in a dart-throwing task. Novices (n = 29) were assigned to either a “Large-target” (horizontal target, 10-cm high) or “Small-target” (2-cm high) group for practice (t = 90), and both groups completed 24-h retention tests. The Small-target group took longer to plan and process feedback in the pre-throw and post-throw periods, respectively, and showed larger joint amplitudes early in practice compared to the Large-target group. As predicted, the Large-target group made more hits and had heightened outcome expectancies compared to the Small-target group. Surprisingly, only the Large-target group performed better than they expected. Despite the Large-target group having more target hits, enhanced expectancies, and more unexpected success, this group did not outperform the Small-target group on behavioural indices of performance and learning. This research questions assumptions and results related to success-related manipulations for task performance and mechanisms related to target size manipulations.

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