Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Kinesiology and Sport Studies

Major Professor

Jeffrey Fairbrother

Committee Members

Lars Dzikus, Angela Wozencroft, Daniela Corbetta


Recent research investigating how learners benefit from having control over some aspect of their practice environment has led to numerous potential explanations for its beneficial effects (Janelle et al., 1997; Chiviacowsky & Wulf, 2002). These explanations, however, are vague and difficult to directly measure. Current research suggests that learners in a self-controlled setting prefer feedback after relatively good performances. More recently, Aiken and colleagues (2012) have provided evidence suggesting that when learners control their feedback schedule while learning a task with multiple dimensions of performance, they prefer and request feedback after both “good” and “poor trials” equally. The purpose of this study was to directly address how learners in self-controlled and yoked conditions learn a task with two conflicting elements of performance in a laboratory setting. Participants (n=22) learned a discrete aiming task for which they had to move from a starting zone around a barrier to a target with a handheld stylus in their non-dominant hand in 600 ms. Success was determined on two criteria: temporal and spatial accuracy. Participants completed motivation scales assessing intrinsic motivation, perceptions of choice and competence, and fulfillment of basic psychological needs. A post-training questionnaire was used to examine learner preferences for feedback. Results indicated the self-control group outperformed the yoked group in spatial accuracy during transfer tests. Further, analysis of performance and questionnaire data revealed that the self-control group requested feedback equally on their best performance as on their worst performances. The findings of this study support the notion that learners request and benefit from feedback differently dependent on task complexity. Future research should consider using semi-structured interviews to better understand how learners use and develop strategies related to feedback requests.

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