Fitts and Posners Phases of LearningIn order to start to learn a new motor skill our body needs to learnhow to control its limbs in such a way that will benefit a certainaction.
Obviously we dont learn this straight away it takes time tolearn and to process all this information so that we can improve andprogress from being a novice to being proficient.Fitts and Posener were able to identify several different stages inthe learning process. Learning is a complex process and the stages, orphases labelled by Fitts and Posner, are not clear-cut.
You will beable to create more successful learning processes if these phases areunderstood.In 1964 Paul Fitts and Michael Posner developed a theory to explainhow our body learns to do this. They divided it into three learningstages which have been split up and explained below: -1) The cognitive phaseThis is first stage of learning where the performer learns what needsto be done. The performer needs to find out,- What is required- What task is to be performed- The rules are- The correct way in holding specific equipment, e.g. a golf clubIn this stage the emphasis is on the performer understanding whatneeds to be achieved, so that initial simple plans of action can befollowed and achieved to a certain level of play. This specific stageinvolves a lot of trial end error, so that the professional teachingcan give positive feedback to the performer, in order to improve his/her game.
The successful strategies can be reinforced at this stageand unsuccessful should not be dismissed due to the fact that allexperiences can be worthwhile.External feedback is also achieved via observing other performers athigher levels. For example a teacher may show a learning player,trying to get a grip on the basics, the swing of Tiger woods, so thatthe learner can manipulate it into their own swing.The skill is mainly performed in a closed environment with as littleoutside variables as possible so the performer can achieve the basicsof the game.2) The associative phase————————This is the intermediate stage, and can take much longer than theCognitive stage. During this stage the performer learns through manyhours of practising in open and closed conditions as they try todevelop their skill. For golf the performer will be most likely topractice in closed conditions, as it is not a team game, however forfootball it may be different.
The cognitive feedback has been learned so that the different parts ofthe skill can be performed and co-ordinated together, therefore givingan outcome desired by a learner. Significant errors are detected andcorrected with and without the help of exterior sources such ascoaches and videos of their performance. The performer aims to refinethe skill In this stage.This is the stage at which a large majority of performers neverovercome, as the next stage is describes as Automatic, however mostperformers find that they excel and improve the largest amount in thisstage (phase) as the most feedback is given.
3) The autonomous phaseThis is the stage that high-level performers participate at. This isonly ever achieved after much practice and experience, often takingyears, some players never even manage to reach this phase. In thisstage the performer is so elite that the skill is like nothing to themthey perform it almost automatically or habitually..A performer doesnt leap from one stage to another it is more of agradual transitional movement as they develop their control.
I findthat this can be best illustrated on a continuum, running from thefirst phase (cognitive) to the final phase, where the performer ishighly talented (Autonomous): -1) Cognitive phase 2) Associative phase 3) Autonomous phase[IMAGE]Beginner Highly Skilled=======================Shown above is the continuum. However performers at the cognitivestage will have different structured practices to those who fall inthe category of the autonomous phase. For instance, a beginner in thegame of golf will practice trying to gain and acquire the proper gripand posture to hit the ball. A highly skilled golfer may structurepractices to draw, fade, or gain extra spin on the greens. This wouldnot be a suitable ambition for a beginner as he she would not be ableto do it until they fell into the later stages.To structure practices for people at a Cognitive phase of learning theperformer should observe another performer doing the correct skill.The person learning the skill should then try to imitate the skill.
Whist they are doing this the performer should have feedback from anexternal source like a teacher or a coach, or in my case golfprofessional, depending on the sport the performer is aiming toacquire a skill in. The emphasis should be on understanding what hasto be done and the vital parts of the skill should be achieved. Theperformer must be praised when good things are achieved to boost theirconfidence and notify that that part was accomplished well. Thesesessions should be quite short about 20-30 minutes; this is theaverage length of a golf lesson.To structure practices for people at Associative stage of learning youwould need to have a long training period, which could be years,depending on the amount of time the performer is willing to spendtrying to achieve through practice per week or even day.At this stage the performer may also try to create a trainingprogramme in order to become the perfect shape for their sport, e.g.
for golf I try to increse my flexibility and upper body strength so asto increase my mobility through out my swing path.Structured practices for people at the Autonomous stage of learning.In this stage coaching should Be in small groups in order to gain themost benefit as there will only be small errors in the skill which mayotherwise be missed and wont be highlighted and improved upon. Praiseis not usually given in this phase of development as it is a tacticused to make the golfer or other sport performer feel better, and thatthey are being acknowledged.