Working as a postdoc, I became interested in observation and its impact on motor learning and started conducting experiments on observational learning and observational practice.
Our first study on observational learning was published just recently, see here.
Together with performance improvements, mental representation structures developed functionally and became more elaborate over the course of the experiment. Interestingly, however, the pattern of changes over the course of the experiment and across the two practice types was different. Combined practice led to improvements in motor performance from pre- to post-test with representations developing alongside these improvements. Observational practice alone did not lead to performance improvement until after task execution, as shown by improvements in motor performance from post- to retention-test, even though mental representations changed from pre- to post-test. From this, observational practice seems to promote the development of representational frameworks of complex action, and thus action-related order formation in long-term memory.
We’ve conducted several other studies so far, all on observational practice, most of them with a particular focus on the provision of augmented feedback in virtual reality: One study on augmented visual feedback strategies, see here for an abstract. Another study on augmented verbal feedback strategies, see here for an abstract. And we’re currently planning a study on observational learning and model type, more soon.
Apart from this work, I am working together with Taeho Kim who’s interest is in observation versus imagery and their influence on motor learning in golf and taekwondo, with a particular focus on long-term and working memory aspects.
He’s published his first study of his PhD project last year, see here. For his second study, he was awarded the young investigator award of the European Network of Young Specialists in Sport Psychology (ENYSSP) for his poster presentation – Congratulation!
The results (of the first study, A/N) showed that mental representation structure and the accuracy of the putting performance were improved over time through the two types of cognitive training (i.e., action observation training and motor imagery training). In addition, we found a significant positive correlation between changes in mental representation structure and skill performance for the action observation training group only. Taken together, these results suggest that both cognitive adaptations and skill improvement occur through the training of the two simulation states of action, and that perceptual-cognitive changes are associated with the change of skill performance for action observation training.