Distinguishing the effects of verbalizing a skill on performance and learning in novice and skilled populations
Type of DegreePhD Dissertation
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This dissertation is a synthesis of two interdependent studies examining the impact of verbalization on motor learning and performance. In the first study, Rhoads et al. (in press) investigated the effects of expecting to teach and teaching on motor learning. Results revealed no impact of teaching on a 24-h delayed retention test, suggesting verbalizing a motor skill via teaching does not influence motor learning. The second study examined the impact of verbalization on motor performance and learning. Results revealed no impact of verbalization on immediate retention test or delayed retention test. These studies add to previous literature investigating the verbal overshadowing effect in the motor domain. Verbal overshadowing is “the idea that verbalization creates a language-based representation that overshadows difficult-to-verbalize aspects of perceptual memory” (Flegal & Anderson, 2008, p. 927). This literature suggests verbalizing a motor skill affects motor performance assessed by way of an immediate retention test (Flegal & Anderson, 2008; Chauvel et al., 2013). Importantly, this effect may only be present if participants possess a certain level of declarative knowledge. Skilled participants may revert back to declarative mechanisms after verbalization to control their movements causing a decline in motor performance (Flegal & Anderson, 2008). Likewise, novice participants may experience performance decrement due to verbalization when declarative knowledge is used for task execution (Chauvel et al., 2013). The second study revealed no impact of verbalization on immediate motor performance, thus, superficially contradicting the previous literature. However, the novice and skilled participants exhibited relatively low levels of declarative knowledge (observed via scored verbalization task and free recall assessment). Perhaps, these participants lacked the appropriate amount of declarative knowledge in order to experience a verbal overshadowing effect on immediate motor performance. Taken together, verbalization may only influence motor performance when declarative knowledge is possessed and utilized by participants. Conversely, verbalization may not impact motor learning (regardless of the amount of declarative knowledge present). The second study aligns with Rhoads et al. (in press) suggesting verbalizing a motor skill does not influence performance on a delayed retention test. Future research should investigate a potential “wash-out” period of verbalization, as well as the amount of declarative knowledge necessary to observe a verbal overshadowing effect. Ultimately, verbalizing a motor skill may affect immediate motor performance if an appropriate amount of declarative knowledge is possessed by participants, but presumably does not impact delayed motor performance.