Does Practice Make Perfect? The Effects of Hypothesis Testing on Learning a Visuomotor Task

Newman, Rachel [Browse]
Senior thesis
75 pages


Taylor, Jordan [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Psychology [Browse]
Class year
Summary note
Active learning, an educational method in which individuals independently learn a skill or rule by way of active engagement (rather than instruction), has been shown to have positive effects on performance across a wide variety of task styles. The mechanisms behind the benefits of active learning have been studied in great detail since its popularization in the 1990s. At present, one of the more prevalent explanations for the success of active learning is hypothesis testing, the theory that active learning affords the opportunity to develop and test one's own theories. The current work seeks to apply this idea to motor learning, specifically to the visuomotor rotation task, which has not been studied directly in conjunction with hypothesis testing thus far. We predicted that participants allowed to test hypotheses would show superior performance on scored test trials to those given more limited opportunities to test hypotheses. This work utilizes the idea of choice and autonomy over an environment in order to test these theories. Hypothesis testing was first measured as choice during practice blocks (experiment 1) and then as an opportunity to practice aiming once before a single test trial (experiment 2). The results were not significant.

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