Break It Down or Not Break It Down: That Is The Question? Article Owerwiew​

Taken on April 25, 2008 by Nathan Rupert

To this day we still don’t fully understand the nature of the human movement. Some movements come to us naturally while others take years of practice to master. For some individuals learning even the simplest skills such as brushing the teeth can be challenging. There are many factors that determine whether or not individuals is going to be successful in acquirements of certain skills. As a practitioner, it is very important to understand the nature of the skill in order to teach. We must understand the relationship between learner, environment, and the task in order to design the best learning experience for our students.

Motor learning one of the most interesting I have taken as an undergraduate. I was also fortunate to have Dr. Cheryl A. Coker she has been an amazing teacher and mentor who is an author of numerous publications including the textbook Motor Learning and Control for Practitioners which we used in the class. In the paper Break It Down or Not Break It Down: That Is The Question? Dr. Coker explores this question. She suggests that when some complex skills should be broken down into smaller components (practiced in parts or whole) in order to facilitate learning others should not be. We can determine this by analyzing the nature of the skill which consists of two variables complexity, and organization.

Complexity refers to the number of key components and the amount of thought that is required in order to successfully execute the skill. Task organization refers to how much are these components are interdependent on one another. Skills that have low organization meaning that the parts of the skill do not influence one another and high in complexity would benefit the learner to be broken down into parts. Furthermore, it remains unclear which approach is best when teaching the skills that are high or low in both of these variables. In this scenario, the practitioner must make the call whether part practice or whole practice is the best choice to teach the skill.  

As a figure skater myself and someone who has been coaching for many years, I did not think of the concept too deeply. Figure skating is a sport that requires thousands of different skills that vary in complexity as well as organization. Often I have made decisions on how and whether or not break down the in order to reteach it. From this article, I learned that I must carefully analyze both of these variables in order to make a better decision and form our own methods to facilitate most proficient learning. 

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