Motivational Aspects of Differential Learning

Project Number
OER 34/12 KYH

Project Duration
December 2012 - September 2015


In this project, we extend previous works by the PI (Kee Y. H.) on the motivational aspects of motor learning. Specifically, we will examine some motivational issues surrounding a seemingly unorthodox approach termed as differential learning (DL). In the traditional practice approach, it is intended that model movements are repeated with the aim of perfecting the target motor skill. In the DL approach proposed by Sch?llhorn (2000), however, the learner is asked to execute a new variation of the 'to-be-learned' skill during every attempt of the practice trial. In short, no trials are identical. Though DL has not received widespread acceptance, some studies suggest better learning outcomes with this approach given the greater scope for exploration during the learning process (since each practice trial is purposefully different from the previous). We speculate that this institution of 'difference' between trials has motivational implications that deserve deeper investigations as we seek to understand psychological factors underpinning effective learning. There are two studies in this project. The first study seeks to establish the effects of DL and the degree of affective responses associated with it. This initial study will help us understand whether DL is motivationally captivating, an issue largely unexplored in the literature. If DL can be both effective and motivationally captivating, further work can be done to explore whether this learning approach can be implemented to other learning settings, particularly those known to be characterized by boredom. Since the DL approach does not allow repetitions of movement during practice, it is unlikely that most learners who are used to the traditional repetitive approach will readily accept it. In short, if DL is to be introduced in schools, most students may not accept this method. The question of how DL can be accepted among learners thus arises. To this end, the second study will examine whether autonomy-support induction can facilitate greater acceptance of the DL approach and thus cause learners to benefit more from DL. This research is in line with the work pursued at the Motivation in Educational Research Lab, NIE on the impact of autonomy support in education. In summary, by studying the motivational issues surrounding DL, we can create knowledge about (a) what is motivating captivating about learning with the DL approach, and (b) whether autonomy-support can enhance the effects of DL. This can potentially lead to better understanding of learners' motivation in a seemingly unorthodox learning approach.

Funding Source

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