Observational Learning - Tell Them What They Are about to Watch and They Will Learn Better

Luc Proteau, Mathieu Andrieux


Observing a model performing a motor skill improves the learning of that skill by naïve observers. Considering the advances in video capture technology, it is very easy to film both expert and novice athletes and use these films to teach novel motor skills to children and adults. In the present study, we assessed whether learning is optimized when the learner knows beforehand whether he or she would be observing an expert, an intermediate, or a novice model. Advance knowledge of the type of model shown might guide one’s observation and improve learning. However, being uncertain of whether the next model would be a novice or an expert might activate more elaborate cognitive processes, thereby leading to improved learning. The task consisted of hitting four successive targets of equal size in a clockwise motion. The distances to each barrier were 15, 32, 18, and 29 cm. The participants were required to complete each of the four segments of the task in an intermediate time (IT) of exactly 300 ms for a total movement time (TMT) of 1200 ms. The task required the participants to change the relative timing pattern that naturally emerged from the task constraints to a new imposed pattern of relative timing. This is similar to changing one’s tempo when executing a serve in tennis or a drive in golf (Rohbanfard & Proteau, 2011). The results of the present study confirm previous findings indicating that one can learn a new relative timing pattern through observation (Andrieux & Proteau, 2013; Rohbanfard & Proteau, 2011). The results show that the benefits of observation for learning a new motor skill are enhanced when one has access to a variety of models, ranging from novices to experts. These benefits are optimized if the observer knows beforehand the quality of the performance that she or he is about to observe.


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Paper Citation

in Harvard Style

Proteau L. and Andrieux M. (2014). Observational Learning - Tell Them What They Are about to Watch and They Will Learn Better . In - icSPORTS, ISBN , pages 0-0

in Bibtex Style

author={Luc Proteau and Mathieu Andrieux},
title={Observational Learning - Tell Them What They Are about to Watch and They Will Learn Better},
booktitle={ - icSPORTS,},

in EndNote Style

JO - - icSPORTS,
TI - Observational Learning - Tell Them What They Are about to Watch and They Will Learn Better
SN -
AU - Proteau L.
AU - Andrieux M.
PY - 2014
SP - 0
EP - 0
DO -