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EXSC 351 Lesson Plan

Teaching Push-Ups Lesson Plan

Addison Lewis

EXSC 351 Spring 2016

1 April 2016

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EXSC 351 Lesson Plan

1. I am teaching a 19-year-old female to do a standard push-up. Alicia is a

college freshman that has gained the freshman fifteen; she is started a

general workout plan that requires 10 push ups that she is not capable of

doing. She can get into a correct plank position, but cannot lower herself to

the ground without her shoulders raising and breaking her plank. Alicia can

tell that her push-up is not efficient, and tries to keep her torso in a plank

while she bends her arms, but cannot yet. When looking at Fitts and

Posner’s Learning Stage Theory she is at the associative stage; there is not

much variation between each push up and she detect that her back is

breaking and tries to correct that (Tenison & Anderson, 2015). When

referring to Gentile’s Learning Stage Theory, it is clear that Alicia is still in

the idea of movement stage, and needs to understand that holding her core

as tight as possible, will make it easier to lower her body to a 90 degree

bend in her arms. Since Alicia will be acting on her environment, is able to

set her own pace, and is focusing on consistency of push-ups, it can be

classified as a closed motor skill. A push up is a stationary skill and because

Alicia’s legs will stay in the same place, but her arms are moving it is a

quasi-mobile body movement. Although a push up is stationary, it a gross

motor skill, involving simultaneous participation of most body parts (Leone

et al., 2013. Alicia’s goal is to be able to do 10 push ups, without stopping,

within a months’ time frame.
2. Blocked practice scheduling is defined as practicing a single skill fully before

moving to the next skill while random practice scheduling is varying the

order of which skills are practiced. If ABC were variations of my motor skill,

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EXSC 351 Lesson Plan

blocked practice would look like AAA, BBB, CCC, while random practice

would be a random order like ACB, BAC, then and CBA. There are many

variations of a push up, for Alicia I will use a female pushup with her knees

on the floor, an inclined pushup on three stairs, then finally a full pushup.

Ali, Fawver, Kim, Fairbrother and Janelle (2012) created an experiment to

examine results on acquisition, retention, and transfer of a timing skill

comparing random and blocked practice schedules. They used 48

undergraduate students, half male and half female, and randomly assigned

them into groups based on practice schedule (random vs blocked).

Participants of this study were testing response time with a Bassin

Anticipation Timer and their task was to press a response butting when

approaching lights reached a target light. There were slow, moderate, and

fast target speeds; their order was manipulated to block or variable

scheduling. The results of these tests showed participants with random

scheduling were less accurate than participants with blocked scheduling and

there was less variability for random scheduling participants compared to

block scheduling participants. The learners are similar, college aged,

learning a task that they are not yet proficient at and have not be taught

before. Although the experiment by Ali, et al. (2012) was a testing timing of

an open motor skill as opposed to the push up being a closed motor skill,

accuracy and variability are two ways to evaluate how well a skill has been

learned. The results are relevant to a push up because it and tapping a

button are discrete, stationary motor skills. When doing a motor skill such as

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EXSC 351 Lesson Plan

a push up, accuracy is important or you could hurt your back or shoulder

joints. In relation to the experiment above, blocked scheduling will be best

for Alicia to learn how to do a correct push up. Ali, et al. (2012) concluded

that in blocked practice, augmented feedback is more easily applied to the

next trial, since Alicia is still in the idea of movement stage, feedback is very

important. Therefore we will practice push ups in the order of 10 girl push

ups to mastery for the first week, then move to 10 inclined push ups to

mastery, and by the end of the month she should be able to do 10 regular

push ups.
3. Massed practice is defined as longer practices and limited amounts of

breaks between sessions while distributed practice is spread out over a

longer period of time with more breaks and shorter practices. Kwon, Kwon,

and Lee (2015) did a study to examine if distributed practices or massed

practices are more effective for learning motor skills. Researchers used

three sessions of a serial reaction time (SRT) task to measure response time

and accuracy with distributed verses massed practices as their independent

variables. The subjects were healthy college students who had never done

SRT tasks before. The distributed practice was scheduled for two 12-hour

inter-session intervals while massed practice was scheduled form two 10-

minutes inter-session intervals. The subjects were healthy adults with no

previous neural disorders and no previous issues with muscular function,

very similar to my learner Alicia. The results showed that distributed

practice was slightly more effective in the effectiveness of learning. The

subjects in the experiment started at the cognitive stage of learning, but by

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EXSC 351 Lesson Plan

the end of the practices were at the associative or autonomic stage of

learning. The goal is to get Alicia from the associative to autonomic stage of

learning. The motor skills are not very similar; the reaction time task is an

open, stable body skill while the push up is a closed, quasi-mobile body skill.

Although the motor skills are different, accuracy is important for both. I am

choosing to use distributed practice to teach Alicia her push up, with a

schedule of two, 30-minute practices per week with a break every 10

minutes. The practices will continue for 4 weeks.
4. Verbal instructions would describe movement and movement goals to a

learner while demonstration is a way to initiate observational learning by

having a model or instructor show a motor skill for the learner to mimic. Al-

Abood, Davids, and Bennett (2001) did a study to examine if verbal

instructions or demonstrations are more effective for learning a motor skill.

Their experiment used 15 men (mean age 24) to throw darts, and none of

these men had experience throwing darts before. They split the participants

into three groups, one with a video of a model successfully throwing a dart,

one with verbal instructions on how to throw a dart, and a control group with

no model or instructions. The experimenters used movement outcome and

movement coordination as dependent variables to see which group grasped

the motor skill best. Participants in the group with demonstration learned

the model’s motion more quickly and accurately. This experiment uses a

closed, stationary motor skill and a push up is also a closed and stationary

motor skill. The participants were learning from no previous experience, so

they were in the idea of movement stage of learning and Alicia is as well.

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EXSC 351 Lesson Plan

Because the motor skill and participants are similar to Alicia and her motor

skill, I think it would be best to use demonstration while teaching a push up.

I plan on making a video modeling the three variations she will practice of a

push up; first the bent leg push up, then the inclined push up and finally a

standard push up. At the beginning of practice each day, I will start by

having Alicia watch one variation of the push up, attempt that variation then

watch and move on to watching the next variation and attempting it, etc.
5. Augmented feedback (AFB) is any information that the instructor tells the

learner to enhance the motor skill. Knowledge of results (KR) is any

information focused on the motor skill’s outcome while knowledge of

performance (KP) is feedback information on how the motor skill was

performed. KR tells the learner if they met their goal or not while KP

explains what was correct or incorrect about the motor skill performance.

The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill did a study to test how

augmented feedback can reduce jump-landing forces. Able-bodied college

students were split into 3 groups with various feedback responses. Group 1

had KP feedback, group 2 had KR feedback, and group three was a control,

they were measuring softness of landing. Each group had a initial jumping

session, a session a few minutes after receiving feedback, and a session a

week later. Students in the first group received KP feedback; for example

they were told that if they landed with their knees bent more, they would

meet their performance goal of landing softly. The second group was given

KR feedback, explaining that they were not landing as soft as they should.

The third group was not given any feedback. The group with KP feedback

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EXSC 351 Lesson Plan

landed softer than the group with KR feedback or no feedback. Alicia is

similar to the students because she is in the cognitive stage of learning like

them. Both the push up and straight jump are quasi-mobile so the motor

skills were similar. When giving Alicia augmented feedback I plan to use KP.

With KP feedback I will tell her what she did correctly in her push up

attempts after practicing each variation. After she practices 10 female push-

ups I will give her feedback like getting her arms to a 90-degree bend. And

after she moves onto 10 inclined push ups I will tell her what she did

incorrectly like breaking the straight plank in her back on the way back up.
6. Two more types of augmented feedback (AFB) are descriptive feedback or

prescriptive feedback. Descriptive feedback explains what the learner did

after attempting the motor skill and prescriptive feedback gives information

on correcting the motor skill for future attempts. Amorose and Smith (2003)

did a study on AFB in response to girls playing softball to see if descriptive

or prescriptive feedback will increase swing accuracy. The dependent

variable is the levelness, stance and hand and wrist action of the swing. For

the study, they used elementary and middle school girls who played

softball, and split them into 3 groups; a descriptive feedback group, a

prescriptive feedback group and a control group with neutral feedback. The

students with descriptive feedback heard phrases like, “your swing was

level” after completing an attempt to hit the ball, and the students with

prescriptive feedback heard things like “you need to follow through all the

way”. The students with neutral feedback heard phrases like, “right” or

“good job”. Results showed that participants who received descriptive

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EXSC 351 Lesson Plan

feedback had higher batting abilities and accuracy than participants with

prescriptive or neutral feedback. Similarly to a push up, batting is a quasi-

mobile motor skill but batting is a open skill while a push up is a closed skill;

similarly to Alicia, these students are in the idea of movement phase, and

need feedback to become more efficient. I will use descriptive feedback

when working with Alicia and explain what went wrong in her incomplete

push-ups. I will say things like “your shoulders came up by your ears in that

last one” or “you let released your abdomen muscles that time and it

caused you to arch your back”. I will give descriptive feedback at the end of

each day’s practice session.
7. Mastery goals are goals that focus on internal comparisons to enhance the

motor skill while performance goals are to be better than others at a certain

motor skill. Using a pushup as an example, mastery goals would be to do a

full push up with arms at 90 degrees, the back in a straight line from the

abdomen muscles being contracted to hold a plank; performance goals

would be to do 20 push ups since most 18-20 year old women should be

able to do 17 push ups (Scott, 2015). Ashauer and Macan (2013) did a

study on how mastery and performance goals affect learning in team

settings. They split 213 students into groups of three and randomly

assigned them to groups of mastery goal instructions, performance goal

instructions, and no goal instructions to see which groups were most

successful at coming up with solutions for an on-campus issue. Researchers

found that mastery goals led to higher solution quality due to an enhanced

want for internal problem solving. Performance goals were associated with a

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since of judgment of themselves verses other teams; teams were more

concerned with how they would be judged than mastering their personal

problem. Although they were studying a campus solution instead of a motor

skill, the internal focus of mastery goals instead of external focus of

performance goals relates to my want for Alicia to focus internally while

learning her push up. Researchers found that mastery goals were related

with greater internal focus and increased learning behaviors. Since Alicia

could not do 2 standard push-ups before practice and instruction I want her

mastery goals to start with 10 female (knees bent) push-ups in a row by the

second week of training. And by the fourth week of training her mastery

goal will be 10 standard push-ups in a row.

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EXSC 351 Lesson Plan

References

Al-Abood, S. A., Davids, K., & Bennett, S. J. (2001). Specificity of Task

Constraints and Effects of Visual Demonstrations and Verbal

Instructions in Directing Learners' Search During Skill Acquisition.

Journal of Motor Behavior, 33(3), 295-305.

Ali, A., Fawver, B., Kim, J., Fairbrother, J., Janelle, C. M. (2012). Too much of a

good thing: Random practice scheduling and self-control of feedback

lead to unique but not additive learning benefits. Frontiers in

Psychology. (np.)

Amorose, A. J., & Smith, P. J. (2003). Feedback as a Source of Physical

Competence Information: Effects of Age, Experience and Type of

Feedback. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 25(Sept), 341-359.

Retrieved March 30, 2016.

Ashauer, S. A., & Macan, T. (2013). How Can Leaders Foster Team Learning?

Effects of Leader-Assigned Mastery and Performance Goals and

Psychological Safety. The Journal of Psychology, 147(6), 541-561.

Kwon, Y. H., Kwon, J. W., & Lee, M. H. (2015). Effectiveness of motor

sequential learning according to practice schedules in healthy adults;

distributed practice versus massed practice. J Phys Ther Sci Journal of

Physical Therapy Science, 27(3), 769-772.

Leone, M., Viret, P., Bui, H. T., Laverdière, C., Kalinova, É, & Comtois, A.

(2013). Assessment of gross motor skills and phenotype profile in

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EXSC 351 Lesson Plan

children 9-11 years of age in survivors of acute lymphoblastic

leukemia. Pediatric Blood & Cancer Pediatric Blood Cancer, 61(1), 46-

52.

Onate, J. A., Guskiewicz, K. M., & Sullivan, R. J. (2001). Augmented Feedback

Reduces Jump Landing Forces. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther Journal of

Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 31(9), 511-517.

Scott, M. (2015, June 25). The Average Push-Ups for Men & Women.

Retrieved March 28, 2016, from

http://www.livestrong.com/article/421691-the-average-push-ups-for-

men-women/

Tenison, C., & Anderson, J. R. (2015). Modeling the Distinct Phases of Skill

Acquisition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory,

and Cognition.

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