ERIC Number: EJ1153242
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Abstractor: As Provided
The Effect of Attentional Focus Cues on Object Control Performance in Elementary Children
Palmer, Kara K.; Matsuyama, Abigail L.; Irwin, J. Megan; Porter, Jared M.; Robinson, Leah E.
Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, v22 n6 p580-588 2017
Background and purpose: Attentional focus cues have been shown to impact motor performance of adults and children. Specifically, an external focus of attention results in improved motor learning and performance as compared to adopting an internal focus of attention. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of an internal and external attentional focus cue on children's object control skill performance during a commonly used motor skill assessment. Methods: Using a within-participant design, a total of 44 children (M[subscript age] = 7.7 years, 20 boys and 24 girls) completed all three attentional focus conditions. The object control subscale of the Test of Gross Motor Development-2nd Edition (TGMD-2; Ulrich, 2000. "Test of Gross Motor Development-2." Austin: Pro-Ed.) served as the motor skill assessment in present study. The TGMD-2 is a normed and criteria-referenced assessment frequently used to assess fundamental motor skill competence in children. The object control subtest of the TGMD-2 assesses a child's ability to complete six fundamental motor skills--striking a stationary ball, stationary dribble, catch, kick, overhand throw, and underhand roll. All participants completed the object control subtest of the TGMD-2 under three different attentional focus conditions: baseline (i.e. neutral focus), internal, and external. The internal cue focused on movement performance and the external cue focused on movement outcome. In all three conditions, a video demonstration of proper skill performance was used to ensure no difference in visual demonstration, but the overlaying audio was changed to encompass each attentional focus condition. Children's motor performance was recorded and later coded by a single researcher blinded to the study. A repeated-measures analysis of variance was used to determine if children's motor scores changed among the three conditions. Results: Findings demonstrated that children's performance differed among the three conditions (F[subscript (2,43)] = 3.5, p < 0.05). Post hoc analysis revealed that children scored significantly better in the external cue condition compared to the baseline (difference = 1.98, p < 0.05). No other significant differences were present. Conclusion: Children performed better when given a verbal instruction to focus their attention externally rather than a verbal instruction with no attentional focus cue. No significant differences exist between the internal and external focus condition or between the neutral and internal condition. Our findings align with the literature and support that external attentional focus cues have a positive effect on motor performance. From a teaching and learning standpoint, using consistent instructions appears to be essential for young learners. Slight changes in verbal cues can have a significant effect on how well children execute fundamental motor skills.
Descriptors: Physical Education, Attention Control, Motor Reactions, Psychomotor Skills, Motor Development, Cues, Elementary School Students, Tests, Physical Activities, Video Technology, Teaching Methods, Statistical Analysis, Scores, Performance, Verbal Communication, Summer Programs, Enrichment Activities
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A