Objective. Numerous studies in the occupational therapy literature have investigated the effects of added-purpose (multidimensional, goal-oriented) occupation on performance. Motor learning research has demonstrated that factors that enhance performance measures do not necessarily enhance motor learning. This study examined the effects of both added-purpose and meaningful occupation on motor learning.
Method. Twenty subjects (university students) were randomly assigned to either an added-purpose or rote exercise condition. After a skill acquisition phase, retention and transfer scores were obtained, and subjects were asked to rate the meaningfulness of the occupation on a visual analog scale.
Results. A two-way analysis of variance indicated that only the added-purpose occupation resulted in significantly greater motor learning. Additionally, the added-purpose scores were not influenced by the level of meaning assigned to the occupation.
Conclusion. This study is the first to demonstrate how added-purpose can enhance a more permanent aspect of performance: motor learning. Further research is necessary to determine whether occupations that both are meaningful and have added-purpose are the most effective in enhancing motor learning.