Saturday, April 7, 2012

Feedback Frequency with Children

Physical Therapy will be publishing research on the frequency of feedback that you should provide for children when learning a motor task.  Previous research with adults indicates that providing feedback 100% of the time when learning a new task is less effective than when less feedback is provided.  In addition, previous research has indicated that children with cerebral palsy benefit from less feedback whereas typical developing children benefit from more feedback.  For this research, children threw beanbags for accuracy at an unseen target while walking or while standing still. Knowledge of results was provided 100% of the time and 33% of the time. Retention tests without feedback were performed 5 minutes later and then one-week later. Also, transfer tests were completed to check the generalizability of learning.

The results indicated the following: learning was improved on the easy version of the task when knowledge of results was provided 33% of the time during practice and learning was improved in the difficult version when knowledge of results was provided 100% of the time during practice.

The researchers suggest that when teaching motor skills to children one should provide feedback based on the complexity of the task.

When you are teaching children new motor skills do you take into account how difficult the task is and how often you provide feedback?  In my opinion, I find it to be human nature - when a child is struggling to learn a new task I provide more feedback and if the task is easier you do not need to provide as much feedback.  

Reference:    Sidaway B, Bates J, Occhiogrosso B, Schlagenhaufer J, Wilkes D. Interaction of Feedback Frequency and Task Difficulty in Children's Motor Skill Learning. Phys Ther. 2012 Mar 15. [Epub ahead of print]

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