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Flashcards in Learning & Performance (Psychology) Deck (11):

Stages of learning

In order to learn any new skills the learner will pass through 3 distinct phases of learning before achieving mastery of the skill. -Cognitive stage -Associative stage -Autonomous stage


Cognitive stage

-Skill learning goals are set and learning is begun -The learner needs to know what to do -Mental picture of movement – demonstration / visual -The performer tries to understand the requirements of the task -Trial and error methods used -Verbal guidance to highlight sequence -Physical guidance – manipulate their limbs -Movements may lack fine control and appear uncoordinated as the performer may have to think and concentrate hard on the task to work out the necessary movements. -Skill performance will look jerky


Associative stage

-The practice stage -The learner has an overall picture of what is required but still makes mistakes -Comparison of action with model -Consistency and coordination improve rapidly, timing and anticipation improve -Gross error detection and correction is practised, detailed feedback is utilised -Need encouragement for motivation -Movement becomes smoother and more controlled -Performance will be inconsistent as errors are still being detected


Autonomous stage

-The performer has reached an expert level of competence due to lengthy practice. -Actions are automatic -Highly skilled and consistent (habitual responses) -Ability to detect and correct errors without help -Can process information given by coach easily -The performance is smooth and efficient and is performed as one action, leaving lots of attention for use on finer elements of the skill or tactics of the game.


How feedback changes through the stages of learning




-General (Gross errors)

-Knowledge of results



-Intrinsic Specific (minor errors)

-Knowledge of performance


The performance curve

A performance curve shows how performance changes over time, and so (hopefully!) shows learning.

This is generally accepted as being a typical performance curve:


Explain what the performance curve shows at each of the points A-D.


A - Performance is zero as the skill is just being learned.


B -  Early performance gains are substantial as the performer begins to learn the skill and rapid improvements and fewer mistakes are made.


C -  The performer shows no improvement in performance – reaches a plateau


D - Performance may even deteriorate over time.



These are the levelling off in performance preceded or followed by performance gains. It is the point in skill learning where, no matter how hard you try, no apparent improvement is achieved. Plateaus can be frustrating to the learner and can lead to demotivation, and therefore should be avoided if possible.


What are the causes of plateaus?

-Movement from learning a simple skill to a more complex skill or part of a skill

-Lack of understanding about what is required/incorrect technique

-Goals set too high or too low


-Lack of variety in practice/poor coaching

-Lack of motivation due to above


How can a teacher or coach avoid the plateau effect?

-Give clear instructions

-Set realistic goals - extrinsic

-Give rest periods

-Make practice interesting

-Give rewards


Performance curves and stages of learning


Explain which stage of learningis shown at A, B and C

A – Cognitive stage. Performance is low as learning is just beginning and the performer is still understanding the requirements of the skill, and forming a mental picture of the movement.


B – Associative stage. The learner is practicing and making improvements, but is still making mistakes.


C – could be associative or autonomous. NOT because the performer can’t get any better but they have reached a plateau due to demotivation, goals set too high or low etc.