Objective. A major concern of occupational therapy is the identification of context characteristics that optimize performance. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of context on skill acquisition and transfer.

Method. Forty college students without disabilities (12 men, 28 women) were randomly assigned to the task of learning to use chopsticks in either a natural or a simulated context. Each participant practiced 60 trials in an acquisition phase on 1 day and was tested on a transfer task 24 hr after the acquisition phase. Their performances in the acquisition and transfer phases were measured with the variables of success rate and reaching kinematics.

Results. The natural context elicited significantly larger improvement of success rate in the acquisition phase and a significantly higher success rate in the transfer phase than the simulated context. No major difference was found in kinematic variables between the two contexts.

Conclusion. These results suggested the use of natural contexts to facilitate the outcome of motor skill learning.

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