The effects of control versus no control, within a dyad, for the acquisition of a novel motor skill
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The motor learning literature has shown that alternating dyad practice (i.e. switching between Actor and Observer roles after each practice trial) is both an effective and efficient method of practice. The present experiment examined the effects of providing dyad learners with control over when to switch roles with their partner and investigated the potential differences between when the Actor had control versus the Observer. Further, this experiment investigated the different switching strategies adopted by the dyad learners, when provided control. During acquisition, participants performed a speed cup-stacking task, and returned approximately twenty-four hours later for delayed retention and sequence transfer tests. The results showed participants who controlled their role-switching schedule learned the task relatively similarly to those who did not have control, as well as to those who practice individually. Additionally, providing the Actors with control over their schedule resulted in equivalent learning outcomes to the Observers who were provided control. Finally, the learners who were provided control adopted various switching strategies, highlighting the dynamic nature of dyad practice. Overall, these novel findings suggest that dyad learners can control their role-switching schedule, without undermining learning, and thus provide further support for dyad practice as an effective and efficient method of practice.