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3 Stages of Motor Learning

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
These late night study sessions are going to be the end of me, but I may as well put this stuff into the "vernacular" to make it useful.

I found this section of a textbook pretty relevant to ski instruction.

The first stage of learning any new skill is called the cognitive stage. The student spends a good deal of time thinking about the task. Lots of visual information is needed. Verbal feedback is extremely important, and it needs to be given at frequent intervals. Strategy planning and manipulation of technique is not really feasible at this stage. Movements tend to be jerky, with little response to the environment. For this reason, people who have no experience with any other snow or sliding sport may be stuck in this stage for a considerable period of time.

In the associative stage, movement becomes more coordinated, and proprioception plays a bigger part. The ability to alter movement and adapt to the environment improves. Transitions between movements are smoother. What I found significant about this, is the fact that giving a student too much verbal feedback at this stage can sometimes be detrimental, because it can divorce them for their proprioception, and put them back into the cognitive stage.

For me, this is what can make or break a lesson. The instructor who allows an intermediate class to ski maybe 3 minutes, and then stops to do a 10 minute verbal analysis may be doing their students a disservice.

The third stage is autonomous. The skill has become refined, and movement does not require conscious thought or manipulation. The relationship to the environment has become intuitive, and more complex patterns can be performed, such as pole use in a mogul field.

Interesting stuff!
post #2 of 10
This is interesting, and I think it's one of the reasons why we use a mind/body/spirit approach (or as the kids pros call it--the CAP model). Although this approach doesn't always follow through the distinct stages, it allows the student to be reached at all of them. It is the pros job to balance the three and integrate them (the autonomous stage) at the end.

Do you think the cognitive stage is always the first step in sports learning? I believe that it often is, but I'm not convinced it's so for everyone. I see certain people who trust the knowledge and experience of their bodies before they have any cognitive sense at all. (Am I using the words incorrectly?)
post #3 of 10
I have always found this to be interesting stuff. I break it down simply for my students-

The mechanical phase- learning the basic moves

The habitual phase- where the movements can be repeated over and over, in varying environments

The instinctive phase- where the appropriate movement is performed, regardless of the sequence or terrain, with out thinking consiously.

Though its old, a great book on this subject is "Principles of Motor Learning", John Drowatsky. It not only give great explanations of how motor learning is achieved at different ages, it discerns between different types of movements, and the resulting feed back loops that affect that learning.

Not a NY Times page turner, but an incredible resource.

post #4 of 10

Great stuff.

Actually it's been around ski instruction for quite awhile. My teaching fried brain (TFB)is trying to remember whether I first encountered the associative, cognitive, autonoumous concept in some ancient (read mid 80's) PSIA publication or some long forgotten clinician covered it. I know I've used in lot of teaching clinics.

I quickly glanced at some old PSIA publications to see if I could find the source and now you've tweaked my interest to study them over the summer to see how much of the old material is still relavent.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Great, I'm glad this is useful!
Weems, you've hit on the essence of what this is about! There are indeed some people who seem to more or less skip the cognitive stage of motor learning.
We call them naturals.

Why this is so, is dependent on many factors. Ahwile ago, we had a thread called The Cat and the Salamander. It seems that people who participate in "catlike", unpredictable activities, such as horseback riding, soccer, etc. will easily adapt to skiing, whereas salamanders, who are distance runners, swimmers, machine weight training freaks, anyone participating in predictable activities will possibly find skiing more challenging.

The certification program where this material comes from is involved in trying to change the gym environment to make it more "catlike", and condusive to sports conditioning. Hopefully, this will shorten the cognitive stage of learning, for some, and facilitate entrance into the associative and autonomous stage.

Much of the line of study is probably quite similar to what a ski instructor goes through in their training. Principles of Motor Learning, The Kinetic Chain, all really interesting stuff!
post #6 of 10

First, thanks for reviewing all of this stuff with us. It is fun to learn(relearn) as we go through life.

In SnowPro, Winter 2001, "A framework for teaching for experiential learning" by Joan Heaton and Jim Vigani of Windham, NY, mentions the Kolb model of learning. "Concrete Experiences, Observation and Reflection, Formation of Concepts and Generalization, Testing Concepts in New Situations." As we learn we cycle through this process many times. The authors of this article uses "PSIA" words for the four categories as: Feeler, Watcher, Thinker, Doer.

In a PSIA-E Master Teacher Certification course called Extreme Teaching, a handout (written by Joan Heaton, edited by Sue Spencer)using excerpts from "Skiing Right" by Horst Abraham, places the four concepts in a sligthly different order: Doer, Feeler, Watcher, Thinker.

My take on the two articles is that the first (like your article) is dealing with a general learning process which we all go through, while the second article is dealing with learning preferences amoung individuals, which makes or breaks a relationship between teacher and student.

Teachers need to be aware of learning styles of the students, but still take them through the learning stages. Your example of 2 minutes skiing and 10 minutes talking is a working model for someone that is a "thinker" learning style. I wouldn't spend 10 minutes though!

As instructors, there is also different teaching styles. Lisamarie, do you need to deal with:Command, Task, Reciprocity, Small group, Guided Discovery, Problem Solving?

Ain't teaching grand! Always something new to learn and teach. Always a sense of satisfaction once you "get there".

Refering to other threads, standards and the people driven to get there (and maintain them) should be everyone's goal.

As long as you're learning, you're not getting dumber.

P.S. I hope I gave everyone correct credit for their hard work on the articles.
post #7 of 10
I've never been eager to isolate cognitive and motor learning from each other, when applied to skiing anyway.

Something I came across in a book "Psyching for Slalom" (great water ski training book).
It presents four stages of learning that I feel covers the synergy of the two.

First Stage: Unconscious Incompetence - Unaware of what you are doing, unaware what you should be doing.

Second Stage: Conscious Incompetence -
Understands what to do, but not how to do it.

Third Stage: Conscious Competence -
Understands what to do, and can do it when thinking about it.

Fourth Stage: Unconsious Competence -
Reactions draw on correct muscle memory, without thinking about it.

If we can get our students to the occilation between stage 2 & 3, knowing which is which, we've done pretty well in the time-frame of a lesson. I've found that the stages overlap and will change dominance in different level stress situations. (Blue groomer in sunshine -vs- steep crud in flat light or an exam with THEM watching).

Learning is seldom linear, it darts around, progresses and regresses in an ebb and flow before consistancy is aquired through repetition. Also it never stops, when we apear to have stopped learning, what we are learning are habits and how to resist change.

Many different studies, theories, perspectives out from clinical to common sense instincts. I boil it all down to what I stress to my students:

Quality learning only comes from quality focus on cause, quality awareness of effect, and then making quality adjustments.
Try it, fix it, try it again.
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Even if someone is a thinker, I think that if they are in "flow state", stopping the movement too soon to analyze what's going on can have adverse effects.

Take it from someone who thinks too much!

A specific example is something I've spoken of before. A group of students happy to have broken the "wedge habit". The instructor says "I see you all have your skis parallel, but I don't think you understand why they are that way".

What follows is a 10 minute lecture in the freezing cold, and then a series of linked wedge wedge turns, which we had to really think about doing. Bye Bye flow state.

Arc, I like that 4 stage concept.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 14, 2002 04:32 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Lisamarie ]</font>
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Another thought, and please forgive me for being rude and replying twice in a row to my own thread! [img]redface.gif[/img]

I was just watching the songwriter Rob Thomas on CNN. He spoke about the creative process in writing music and lyrics.

Apparently, he will be playing a guitar, and a melody comes into his head. If he stops at that point to try to write the lyrics, its what he calls an "insult to the creative process". The "flow state" of creativity was in the melody, which was coming to him through instinct, as opposed to thought.

So sometimes, if your student if "skiing the melody", it may be better to "listen to the tune" a bit, before "adding lyrics".
post #10 of 10

Heard your four stages many itmes during a recent mogul clinic. We all kept laughing at what level we were exhibiting!!! [img]smile.gif[/img]
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