OBJECTIVE. This study investigated the effects of qualitative and quantitative knowledge of results (KR) on the acquisition of a motor skill. It was hypothesized that there would be differences in performance during skill acquisition and retention, depending on the type of feedback given. Qualitative KR was in the form of verbal encouragement and quantitative KR was in the form of an algebraic number representing an error score.
METHODS. Seventy-seven adults were randomly assigned to one of four feedback conditions, Quantitative, Qualitative, Quantitative and Qualitative, and no feedback (Control). Participants learned an isometric force production skill. Data were collected during skill acquisition and retention phases. Computer hardware and custom software were used to collect data and administer the feedback conditions of the independent variable.
RESULTS. There was a statistically significant difference in the Acquisition Phase for the main effect of Condition F (3,73) = 6.35, p < .05, and for Block F (9,657) = 2.07, p < .05, but there was no statistically significant Condition X Block interaction F (27,657) = 1.02, p > .05. Pair-wise comparisons revealed statistically significant differences between conditions containing qualitative feedback and conditions containing no qualitative feedback (p < .05). The main effect of condition was significant F (3,73) = 3.00, p < .05 in the retention phase, however there were no significant pair-wise comparisons (p > .05).
CONCLUSION. The results of this study suggest that in a healthy adult population, qualitative feedback, by itself and when combined with quantitative feedback, resulted in superior skill acquisition, but not in the retention of that skill. The artificiality of the task along with differing modes of feedback (audible versus visual) are two potentially limiting factors to this study. Future research that controls for these factors may yield more definitive findings about the role that qualitative feedback has in improving motor performance and learning.