Physical and observational practice afford unique learning opportunities. Academic Article uri icon


  • In 2 experiments, the authors studied the effectiveness of physical and observational practice on learning and the effect on learning of combining physical practice and observation, as compared with providing physical practice alone. In Experiment 1, retention and transfer performance of 30 university students after physical, observational, or no practice were contrasted. Consistent with findings from other studies, the retention results indicated that observational practice is inferior to physical practice. The transfer data indicated no differences between observation and physical practice groups. In Experiment 2, retention and transfer performance of 30 participants in physical and combined (alternating physical and observational) practice groups were contrasted. The retention results showed no differences between the combined and physical practice groups, but the combined group performed significantly better than the physical practice group on the transfer test. Those findings suggest that a combination of observation and physical practice permits unique opportunities for learning beyond those available via either practice regimen alone.

published proceedings

  • J Mot Behav

author list (cited authors)

  • Shea, C. H., Wright, D. L., Wulf, G., & Whitacre, C.

citation count

  • 138

complete list of authors

  • Shea, CH||Wright, DL||Wulf, G||Whitacre, C

publication date

  • January 2000