Psychomotor Skills Development: Psychomotor Skills

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Psychomotor Skills
In his classic book entitled Permanent Learning Lancelot (1944) proposed that psychomotor skill development requires a blending of the mind and muscle. He further explained that manipulative acts are guided by thought, and that a direct relationship exists between the quality of thought and the quality of manipulative performance. Watson (1980) agreed that psychomotor skill development involves both muscle and thinking skills. According to Watson, psychomotor skills are acquired through a three stage process: (1) early cognitive - usually of short duration and includes attention, observation, and thought about how and why the skill is performed, (2) lengthy practice or fixation - includes practice sessions aimed at shaping correct performance, and (3) final autonomous stage - correct performance becomes automatic, with increases in speed, accuracy, dexterity, timing, and greater understanding of application settings. Unfortunately, college students do not always reach the final autonomous stage. However, advanced stages of the skill acquisition process are often attainable.
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The exception is mental practice, a theory in its infancy at the time of Lancelot's work. (1) The development of psychomotor or manipulative skills is a complex process that for most skills requires high level mental thought as well as physical activity; (2) the preparation and presentation activities of teachers have a definite influence upon skill acquisition; (3) skill acquisition appears to be NACTA Journal - March 1986 highest when students are motivated to perform the skill, demonstrations are provided which can be imitated by students, both physical and mental practice are provided, and knowledge of performance results is provided; and (4) retention and transfer of psychomotor skills may be improved through these same teaching

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