You are on page 1of 8

Jurnal Pendidikan 2003, Universiti Malaya 71

THE EFFECTIVENESS OF TWO DIFFERENT PRACTICE SCHEDULES


IN ACQUIRING OPEN MOTOR SKILL

Shabeshan Rengasamy

ABSTRAK

Kajian ini dijalankan untuk melihat kesan dua corak latihan yang menggunakan masa
rehat yang berbeza dalam proses pembelajaran sesuatu kemah iran motor terbuka.
Seramai 68 pelajar kursus pendidikan jasmani dipilih untuk kajian ini. Mereka
dibahagikan kepada 2 kumpulan iaitu, kumpulan experimen (N=34), dan kumpulan
kawalan (N=34). Kedua-dua kumpulan menjalankan latihan satu jam lima belas minit satu
sesi pertemuan selama dua minggu untuk kemah iran menyangga bola tampar. Setiap sesi
pertemuan, kumpulan experimen menggunakan nisbah bola/pelajar 1 :4, manakala
kumpulan kawalan menggunakan nisbah bola/pelajar 1:8. Pencapaian dalam ujian pra dan
pos telah dibandingkan di dalam kumpulan untuk melihat peningkatan dan Ujian t juga
dijalankan untuk melihat perbezaan signifikan di antara kumpulan. Kedua-dua ujian
adalah tidak signifikan (p<0.05).

INTRODUCTION

One of the aims of Physical Education is to teach a variety of motor skills for students to use outside the
physical educational environment to lead a healthy lifestyle (Pangrazi & Darst, 1991; Rink, 1993). Learning
of motor skills among beginners or students introduced to the skills for the first time can be challenging as
individuals from different backgrounds react and understand differently while learning. The challenge is
even greater considering that teachers need to impart the knowledge of a skill or movement related to a skill
within the specific time stipulated by the Center for Curriculum Development of Malaysia (Kementerian
Pendidikan Malaysia, 1998). Thus physical educators have limited time to teach the variety of skills
required by the Center for Curriculum Development, and they must find effective ways to use the practice
time available.
One avenue to consider for effective learning is the distribution of practice trials within the
practice session. This is based on Hull's reactive inhibition theory (1943), which attempts to account for the
differences in performance under the massed and distributed practice conditions. Schmidt and Lee (1999)
defined massed practice as one where

the amount of practice time in a trial is greater than the amount of rest between trials and
distributed practice as a situation where the amount of rest between trials equals or
exceeds the amount of practice time in a trial. (p.384)
72 Jurnal Pendidikan 2003, Universiti Malaya

According to Hull's reactive inhibition theory, under massed practice schedule, individuals will build up the
reactive inhibition and this accumulation would depress their performance as they respond due to fatigue.
On the other hand, under the distributed practice schedule, there is a build up of reactive inhibition but most
of it would dissipate during the rest intervals due to the inter-trial rest period.
Based on this notion of massed and distributed practice schedules which differ in the inter-trial rest
period, studies indicate disparity in conclusions among learning and performance in acquiring motor skills.
Earlier studies using fine motor skills in laboratory settings have indicated that distributed practice
schedules offer more advantages than massed practice schedules in motor skill acquisition (Archer, 1958;
Riopelle, 1950).
Later studies have indicated that a massed practice schedule did result in poor performance scores,
but when inter-trial rest interval was manipulated, respondents exhibited better performance (Brown, 1979;
French et al., 1996; Godbout et al., 1983; Huasak & Reeve, 1979; Mahamad Ali, 2001; Melnick, 1971;
Nair, 1993; Schendel & Hagman, 1982; Shabeshan, 2000; Singer, 1965; Stelmach, 1969; Whitley, 1970).
This explains the notion of Hull's theory, that the more frequently the task is performed the greater the
reactive inhibition and this would retard performance and learning due to fatigue. On the other hand if
proper rest interval is scheduled between trials, the accumulation of reactive inhibition would dissipate with
rest. Extending on this notion, rest is an important factor between trials or sets of trials as it allows for
recovery from fatigue and is thought to enhance performance and motor skill acquisition (Schmidt & Lee,
1999).
Applying this to the physical education environment in the Malaysian context would mean that
practice or drills conducted during a normal physical education class should factor in proper rest intervals
between trials within a practice session to minimize accumulation of reactive inhibition. By doing so,
students would be able to concentrate longer resulting in more effective learning.
This study was undertaken on an applied basis to determine (a) the effectiveness of two different
practice schedules within a distributed practice schedule by manipulating the rest interval and (b) whether
the effectiveness of two one hour fifteen minutes of a practice session was sufficient enough to affect the
learning and acquisition of an open motor skill. This study was carried out in a normal physical education
class using a digging skill (open skill) in volleyball. It would provide Malaysian physical educators and
coaches an insight into the role of practice schedule and the effectiveness of time given within a practice
session in the learning process.

METHODOLOGY

Subjects

A total of 68 out 001 students who were registered for the compulsory physical education course at a local
university were selected. Subjects who had previous knowledge of volleyball were excluded from the study.
All the subjects used in the present study volunteered for the experiment and did not receive any extra credit
for the course.
Jurnal Pendidikan 2003, Universiti Malaya 73

Experimental Design

The 68 subjects selected were randomly assigned to either the experimental group (N=34), or the control
group (N=34). There was no attempt to organize the subjects within and between the groups along the lines
of ability, race or any other consideration. They were pre-tested in the dig (Open Skill), using the American
Alliance for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (AAHPER) Volleyball Skills test (AAHPER,
1969), which has a reliability of .70 (Baumgartner & Jackson, 1991). A t-test was administered to assess the
comparability of the groups and no significant difference (p<0.05) was found between the groups; hence it
could be assumed that they were comparable.

Procedure

The subjects were randomly assigned to one experimental and one control group and were told about the
aim of the study. The experimental and the control group underwent teaching and practice for the digging
skill for one hour and fifteen minutes a session in a week for two weeks. The experimental group used a ball
to four students (1:4) compared to the control group, which used a ball to 8 students (l :8). All students in
the class underwent the warm-up session. Immediately after the warm-up, a teacher demonstration was
carried out and this was followed by the volleyball drills for digging.
After the demonstration, the experimental group utilized the 1:4 ball: student ratio, compared to
the control group, which utilized the 1:8 ball: student ratio during the drills. This class activity was carried
out for about 40 minutes utilizing about four different drills for both the groups. Immediately following the
class activity was the application section or the minor game which used the skill that was learned in the day,
finally followed by a five-minute cool down session.
A pilot study indicated that a ball student ratio of 1:4 would take about 20 to 25 seconds for the
turn over to complete a drill compared to the ball student ratio of 1 :8, where it would take about 40 to 45
seconds for the turn over to complete in a drill. This would mean that the experimental group rest interval
would be about 20 to 25 seconds a student between trials compared to the control group's rest interval
between trials of 40 to 45 seconds a student. After completion of the two practice sessions, the posttest was
conducted the following day.
All the scores for the experimental and the control groups were recorded and tabulated; the mean
(M) and standard deviation (SD) were calculated. An independent t-test was conducted for group
comparability, a paired t-test was conducted to see any significant gains within the groups, and an
independent z-test was conducted to see any significant differences between the posttest mean scores of the
two groups.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

The pretest scores of the two groups were compared using a t-test for comparability and it was found that
there was no significant difference between the groups over the digging skill
74 Jurnal Pendidikan 2003, Universiti Malaya

(p<0.05), and it was assumed that the two groups were comparable. For the experimental group the pretest
mean score for the digging skill was M = 2.11, SD = 1.47. As for the control group the pretest mean score
for the digging skill was M = 1.73; SD = 1.42.
The posttest mean score for the experimental group for digging was M = 2.55; SD = 1.72. As for
the control group the posttest mean score for digging was M = 2.08; SD = 1.42. Applying the t-test at 0.05
level of confidence, there were no significant differences within the experimental group t(33) = 1.69, p<.05,
as well as within the control group t(33) = 1.27,p<.05.
The between group differences were also not significant t(66) = 1.22,p<.05. It should be noted that
there was a gain within groups indicating that learning was taking place but it was not significant within and
between the groups.
Jurnal Pendidikan 2003, Universiti Malaya 75

The results of the present investigation as shown in Table I and 2 indicate that there was a gain
between the pretest to the posttest mean scores for the experimental and the control groups respectively.
The mean difference between the pretest mean score compared to the posttest mean score was 0.44 within
the experimental group, and 0.35 for the control group. The t-test analysis indicated that within group
differences was not significant at 0.05 level of confidence in the digging skill among both experimental and
the control groups (p<0.05).
As shown in Table 3, when the posttest mean scores were compared between the groups, it was
also not significant (p<0.05), indicating no treatment effect. The findings of the present study are in
agreement with other similar local studies by Nair (1993) and Shabeshan (2000) which used an open motor
skill.
Both experimental and control groups practised the digging skill in a distributed practice schedule
whereby the experimental group had a shorter rest interval of 20 - 25 seconds using the ball student ratio of
1 :4. The control group also practised under the distributed schedule but had a longer rest interval between
trials of 40 - 45 seconds using the ball student ratio of 1 :8. The findings indicating no significant difference
between groups may be attributable to both the groups lacking sufficient turn over rates during the practice
time to master the skill, rather than the insufficient rest intervals.
The present data indicate that the experimental group had slightly higher differences in the posttest
mean scores compared to the control group subjects. This suggests that the experimental group had
sufficient inter-trial rest interval which is in agreement with Hull's reactive inhibition theory which posits
the dissipation of reactive inhibition due to sufficient rest interval hence enhancing learning and proficiency
in the skill.
A reduced inter trial rest interval had increased the practice time (higher turn over rate) within the
specified time and with adequate rest, the experimental group performed slightly better although there was
no significant difference. The insignificant difference could be due to an insufficient practice turn over rate
which did not allow students to develop a memory representation of the skill which they could easily access
for later use (Magill, 2001).
As for the control group, which had a lower posttest mean score compared to the experimental
group, this could be due to the longer rest interval within the group. The 4045 seconds inter trial rest
interval made the subjects wait too long in line before the next trial during their drills. This longer rest
interval further reduced the number of practice trials for the subjects as they were using the 1:8 ball:student
ratio. Although the rest intervals were longer compared to the experimental group, this longer rest interval
had somewhat reduced the number of trials. The reduced number of trials lowered the contact time with the
ball so the students did not get enough representation of the movement of the skill in the memory (Schmidt
& Lee, 1999). Hence, beginners were unable to form a "strength" of the movement in the memory for later
use and it affected the acquisition and learning process (Magill, 2001).
76 Jurnal Pendidikan 2003, Universiti Malaya

Furthermore, the digging skill, which is an open motor skill is also a complex motor skill with
many parts to the skill to be mastered. Students need good balance, agility, hand eye coordination and the
ability to read the height and distance of the ball (Magill, 2001). The practice time of two one hour fifteen
minute sessions allocated for the dig may be insufficient for the experimental group to master the technique
even when more trials were given. Although the subjects had adequate rest between trials the time allocated
could be insufficient. More practice time and turn over rates are needed for the learners to master the
individual parts of a skill to form a representation or "strength" in the memory for later use (Magill, 2001;
Schmidt & Lee, 1999).
Expanding on the poor scores for the control group, it could be attributed to the "cool down effect"
among the subjects (Magill, 2001). The students in the control group had to wait a longer time before the
next trial and this could have affected their physiological state (Sanderson, 1983). The long wait could have
lowered their motivational level during the practice session due to the longer turn over rate necessitated by
the longer rest interval (Magill, 2001).

CONCLUSION

The findings of the present study seem to indicate that the results of two different practice schedules with
different inter-trial rest interval between the control and the experimental groups were not significant,
although the experimental group showed a slight improvement in the posttest scores. The findings indicate
that the rest intervals among the experimental group was sufficient as demonstrated by a slight
improvement in the posttest mean scores among the experimental group. With the present findings it would
appear unwise on the basis of one case study to conclude that rest intervals or turn over rates allocated in a
practice schedule are insufficient to enhance proficiency in an open motor skill. However this study
suggests strongly that time allocated for practice in an actual situation in a field study may vary, thus
emphasizing the importance of the turn over rates in a "real" practice session. Further research in this
direction is needed in the real school setting to determine the effectiveness of practice sessions in school
physical education classes.
Jurnal Pendidikan 2003, Universiti Malaya 77

REFERENCES

AAHPER. (1969). Volleyball skills test manual. Washington, DC: Author.


Archer, E. J. (1958). Effects of distribution of practice on a component skill of rotary pursuit tracking.
Journal of Experimental Psychology, 56(5),427-435.
Baumgartner, T. A., & Jackson, A. S. (1991). Measurement for evaluation in physical education and
exercise science. Dubuque, IA: Brown.
Brown, W L. (1979). A Comparison of two batting methods. Unpublished Masters thesis (Microfiche),
California State University, Long Beach.
French, K. L., Werner, P. H., Rink, J. E. et al. (1996). The effects of a 6 week unit of tactical, skill, or
combined tactical and skill instruction on badminton performance of ninth-grade student. Journal of
Teaching Physical Education, 15,439-463.
Godbout, P., Brunelle, J., & Tousignant, M. (1983). Academic learning time in elementary and secondary
classes. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 54(1), 11-19.
Huasak,W S., & Reeve, T. G. (1979). Novel response production as a function of variability and amount of
practice. Research Quarterly 50(2),215-221.
Hull, C. L. (1943). Principles of behavior. New York: Appleton.
Kementarian Pendidikan Malaysia. (1998). Sukatan pelajaran pendidikan jasmani Tingkatan 4. Kuala
Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
Magill, R. A. (2001). Motor learning concepts and application (6th ed.). Dubuque, IA:
Brown.
Mahamad Ali Abd. Rahman. (2001). Kesan kekerapan menggunakan alatan ke atas penguasan kemahiran
motor. Unpublished master's dissertation, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur.
Melnick, M. J. (1971). Effects of overlearning on the retention of a gross motor skill.
Research Quarterly, 42, 60-69.
Nair, M. (1993). Effects of different practice schedules on learning and retention of four field hockey skills.
Jurnal Pendidikan, 15, 61-69.
Pangrazi, R. P., & Darst, P. W (1991). Dynamic physical education for secondary school students,
curriculum and instruction (2nd ed.). New York: Macmillan.
Rink, J. R. (1993). Teaching of physical education for learning (2nd ed.). Mosby: St. Louis.
Riopelle, E. S. (1950). Psychomotor performance and distribution of practice. Journal of Experimental
Psychology, 40,390-393.
Sanderson, F. H. (1983). Length and spacing of practice sessions in sports skills.
International Journal of Sports Psychology, 14, 116-122.
Schendel, J. D., & Hagman, J. D. (1982). On sustaining procedural skills over a prolonged retention interval.
Journal of Applied Psychology, 67,605-610.
Schmidt, R. A., & Lee, T. D. (1999). Motor control and learning: A behavioral emphasis (3rded.).
Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Shabeshan, R. (2000). The effectiveness of using extra equipment in acquisition of a selected volleyball
skill. In Proceedings of the 3rd ICHPER.SD Asia Congress, Information technology towards a better
Asia - A focus on sport, health and physical education, 23-26 November 2000. Kuala Lumpur.
78 Jurnal Pendidikan 2003, Universiti Malaya

Singer, R. N. (1965). Massed and distributed practice effects on the acquisition and retention of a novel
basketball skill. Research Quarterly, 36, 68-77.
Stelmach, G. E. (1969). Efficiency of motor learning as a function of intertrial rest.
Research Quarterly, 40, 198-202.
Whitley, J. D. (1970). Effects of practice distribution on learning a fine motor task.
Research Quarterly, 41, 576-583.