Random Practice Can Facilitate the Learning of Tasks that Have Different Relative Time Structures
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The contextual interference (CI) effect has been replicated many times since its first demonstration by Shea and Morgan (1979) in the motor learning domain (see Brady, 1998; Magill and Hall, 1990). The CI effect is characterized by the observation that experiencing greater interference during acquisition is detrimental to immediate performance but enhances delayed performance as measured on retention or transfer tests. High CI is most often created by random practice in which the learning of multiple tasks occurs in a single training. In contrast, low CI is frequently created by using a blocked practice format in which all the practice trials of one task are completed before another task is introduced. One theoretical account that has been forwarded to account for the CI effect is labeled the action plan reconstruction hypothesis (Lee and Magill, 1983, 1985). This position intimates that before a movement occurs an “action plan” must be prepared. In blocked practice, a previously prepared “action plan” is readily available from trial to trial, but it suffers from lack of attention on trials following initial retrieval from working memory. In random practice, however, each time a task must be executed a “reconstruction” of the action plan must be processed, because the interchange of information from trial to trial never allows the same information to remain in working memory for an extended amount of time. Presumably, the additional trial-to-trial preparation used by the random practice participant during practice results in a more resilient memory representation that better supports long-term recall efforts compared to their blocked practice counterparts. © 2004 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
author list (cited authors)
Magnuson, C. E., & Wright, D. L.