The Development and Transfer of Self-Regulation during Motor Skill Acquisition: A Social Cognitive Perspective



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The purpose of the present study was to assess the development and transfer of self-regulation for college-aged novice learners as they acquired a novel motor skill. A three-phase sequential mixed method design consisted of a qualitative cross-case analysis that assessed commonalities among instructional videos (phase one) that informed the development of an experimental, laboratory-based learning intervention (phase two) which was followed by a post-intervention qualitative interview (phase three). Once the experimental protocol was established, novice-level learners (N = 29) were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: a control condition that received physical skill practice (n = 15) or an experimental condition that received self-regulation coaching with physical skill practice (n = 14). The experimental protocol contained a physical skill performance assessment (both conditions) and a self-regulation microanalytic interview protocol (experimental condition only). In order to better judge the novice-level learner’s motor proficiency and their development of self-regulation, microanalytic data were also collected from high proficiency performers (n = 4). A 2 x 4 repeated measures ANOVA was conducted between the two conditions over pre-, mid-, post-, and transfer test time points. Results yielded non-significant differences between conditions in their skill proficiency, though the experimental group’s mean performance scored higher than the control for both post-test and transfer test evaluations. Chi-square analyses showed that the experimental group used significantly more strategies to aid their performance. On both post-test and transfer test evaluations the experimental group consistently used outcome goals, strategically planned and monitored performance using more mental-skill oriented strategies and used outcome-oriented standards of performance to judge how well they performed. These quantitative findings provide initial support that self-regulatory skills learned through self-regulation coaching can adaptively transfer across performance environments. Qualitative findings showed that goals were important for the learning process and goal setting was the self-regulation component most connected to transfer (as taught through self-regulation coaching). Emergent findings suggest important distinctions between physical-skill oriented transfer and self-regulation transfer across different levels of motor proficiency. A discussion of the findings, future directions for research, and educational implications for the development and transfer of self-regulation are advanced.