Stages of Learning
Chapter 5
Fitts and Posner’s Three Stage
Model
COGNITIVE STAGE
ASSOCIATIVE
STAGE
AUTONOMOUS
STAGE
Development of basic
movement pattern
Refinement of
movement pattern
Performance of
movement virtually
automatic
Practice
Cognitive Stage

High degree of cognitive activity

Attentional demands high, limited to movement
production

Movements lack synchronization and appear
choppy and deliberate

Numerous errors, typically gross in nature

Lacks capability to determine cause of errors
or correct them
Associative Stage

More consistent

Attentional demands for movement production
decrease

Fewer, less gross errors

Better at detecting cause of errors

Begin to develop appropriate error correction
strategies
Autonomous Stage

Highest level of proficiency

Not all learners will reach this stage

Attention reallocated to strategic decisionmaking

Consistent

Confident

Make few errors and can generally detect and
correct those errors that do occur
Practical Application

Choose a skill and generate a list of practical
tips practitioners could follow based on Fitts
and Posner’s characteristics of learners across
the three stages.
–
See Cerebral Challenge #1 on page 100
Gentile’s Two-Stage Model
GETTING THE
IDEA OF THE
MOVEMENT
FIXATION
Closed Skill
Refinement of movement
pattern
Development of ability to
discriminate between
regulatory and nonregulatory conditions
DIVERSIFICATION
Development of basic
movement pattern
Open Skill
Adaptation of movement to
conform to ever-changing
environmental demands
Getting the Idea of the Movement

Goal is to develop an understanding of
movement’s requirements

Have to learn to discriminate between
regulatory and non-regulatory conditions
Fixation/Diversification

Goal is refinement

Fixation – Closed skills
–

How should skills be practiced?
Diversification – Open skills
–
How should skills be practiced?
Practical Application

Choose a skill and generate a list of practical
tips practitioners could follow based on
Gentile’s two stages of learning.
–
See Cerebral Challenge #3 on page 103
Review Questions


How does the role of the practitioner shift as
the learner progresses through Fitts & Posner’s
stages of learning? Through Gentile’s two
stage model?
Explain the relationship of fixation/
diversification to closed and open skills.
Inferring Progress: Learner And
Performance Changes



Coordination and control; freezing degrees of freedom
Muscle activity; reduction to only those needed
Energy expenditure; reduction as movement becomes
more efficient and coordinated


Consistency;consistently correct motion or incorrect?
Attention; less conscious attention; attention may be
detrimental; visual attention on relevant stimuli

Knowledge and memory; access information quicker,
solve problems more quickly with fewer errors
Inferring Progress: Learner And Performance
Changes continued

Error detection and correction; better able to interpret
sensory receptor info in recognition schema; may stop a
performance to avoid an inefficient movement

Self-confidence; more success breed more motivation to
continue; shoot for 80% success
Review Questions



Describe how a person’s capability of detecting and
correcting error changes as a result of practice and
moving from early to later stages of learning. Provide
an example to illustrate this change.
Describe how novices try to control the degrees of
freedom of various limbs as they begin to learn a new
skill. Give an example.
Discuss how the muscles used change as a result of
practice, and explain why this happens.
Assessing learning from
coordination dynamics

One observes stability and transitions of:
–
–

Temporal movement coordination patterns
Spatial movement coordination patterns
The stability or instability of performance
across trials helps the observer characterize
learning
Performance Curves

Used to assess progress over time

Two performance characteristics can be
observed with performance curves
–
–
Improvement
Consistency
Types of Performance Curves
Practice performance may
misrepresent learning

Practice performance may overestimate or
underestimate learning
–
–

Practice artificially inflates performance
Transfer and retention test should be given
Performance plateaus
–
Period when little or no improvement occurs
Performance Plateau

Period of time during the learning process in
which no overt changes in performance occur
–
May be transitional period in learning process
–
Not always indicative of cessation of learning

Other factors: fatigue, anxiety, lack of motivation

Limited by performance measurement used
Retention and Transfer Tests

Both measure persistence of improved skill
performance

Retention test
–

Skill performance test give following a period of no
practice
Transfer test
–
Measurement of the adaptability of a response
determined by testing learner’s ability to use a skill
in a novel context or manner
Assessing learning by
retention tests


A common measure to assess the performance
characteristic of improvement
Typical administration of a retention test
–
–
–
Perform the skill in practice
Period of no practice
Retention test is administered to determine amount
retained
Assessing learning by
transfer tests


Assess the performance characteristics of
adaptability
Performing a practiced skill in:
–
Novel context that changes



–
Without augmented feedback
Physical environment
Personal characteristics
Novel skill variations
Review Questions



Why aren’t performance plateaus indicative
that a person has quit learning?
What characteristics may be represented on a
learning curve?
Compare and contrast retention and transfer
tests.
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Stages of Learning - University of New Mexico