The aim of this assignment is to find out how information processing helps the learning of motor control in dance

“Motor control: Understanding the execution of those processes that lead to skilled human movement as well as factors leading to the breakdown of such skills.” “Motor Learning: Understanding how processes that sub serve movement are developed and factors that facilitate or inhibit this development. Modification in motor behaviour or improvement in proficiency of a motor skill due to experience or practice conditions.” (

This project has the following objectives:-

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* Find out about the different information processing models and apply them to dance.

* Find out how these models can be used to improve the learning of motor control.

* Find out about psychological and physiological factors that affect the way you react to a stimulus in dance.

* How schemas help in the learning of motor control in dance.

The project will be researched in different ways, the Internet, books from Scunthorpe library and the College library and course notes will be used (psychology and physical education). Letters will be written to governing bodies and journals from university libraries will be used.

I chose to do my project on this because I am studying AS psychology and physical education and I am very interested in the psychological processes applied to sport, and in particular to the learning of motor skills to improve upon performance. I am particularly interested in information processing and schemas, I have been studying them and would like to find more about then. I am a dancer, I have been dancing since I was 4 years old, I am hoping to use this research to improve upon my dancing.

Atkinson and Shiffrin’s model of information processing shows that the incoming information or the stimulus goes directly in to the sensory memory, it is then passed to the short term memory, unimportant information is forgotten and important information is passed on to the short term memory. For example a new dance move such as a jazz line is put in to the sensory memory, it is then passed on to the short-term memory. This results in a response; if the information is rehearsed or repeated in the short-term memory it is passed on to the long-term memory. If the information in the short-term memory is not rehearsed is forgotten. The jazz line is repeated many times in the short-term memory it will then be stored in the long-term memory, where it will be remembered how it is performed for next time.

(Sport and PE)

Whiting’s model of information processing shows that when information is put in it is passed through to the perceptual mechanisms, then passed to the translatory mechanisms where the information is processed before being passed to the effector mechanisms where the output is given. Feedback data is then given to improve upon the input. E.g. doing a high kick, the receptor system senses this input and it is passed to the perceptual mechanism where the individuals own perception is put upon it. It is passed to the translatory mechanism where the information is processed about the movement, it is then passed on to the effector mechanism which is where, what is going to be done is established and the muscular system is the output. Feedback is given.

(Advanced PE for Edexcel)

Welfords model of information processing shows that information is input by the senses and passed on to the short-term memory store. From the short-term memory it passes to the perception stage, from there it either goes to the short-term memory before a decision is made or it goes directly to the decision process. Here it either consults the long-term memory before going back to the decision process, then the motor output or it goes directly to motor output. The motor output is stored in the long-term memory as well as being the new sensory input. E.g. learning how to do a pirouette in dance. The dancer will attempt this for the first time, this infomation will be passed to the short-term sensory store, this is followed by the dancer’s personal perception. The information will be passed to the short -term before being passed to the decision process. Before the motor output is performed it will consult the long-term memory to see if there has been any similar situations in the past, if there has not, it goes to the motor output. The motor output will cause the body to receive intrinsic feedback. This will be stored in the long-term memory. Next time a pirouette is attempted it will go through the same stages except when it gets to the long-term memory, the information from the feedback will be stored improve it. If the pirouette is repeated it will improve each time.

In conclusion, after looking at different information processing models, they look very different but basically say the same thing.

How well the performer will react to the stimuli is affected by the stage of learning the performer is at, this is because information is processed differently at each stage: – “There are three stages to learning a new skill; Cognitive phase -Identification and development of the component parts of the skill. Associative phase – Linking the component parts into a smooth action. Autonomous phase – Developing the learned skill so that it becomes automatic” (

In the cognitive stage a learner would be very inexperienced at motor control. This means the learner would go through the stages slowly because the motor programmes have not been practiced enough. When the motor control is being performed for the first time the long-term memory doesn’t have any previous experiences to follow. When the motor control has been performed a few times it will be remembered but the process is still slow. E.g. a beginner learning their first dance. The moves will be slow and the performer will not be able to make the moves flow into each other.

In the associative stage a learner has some experience in motor control. They are able to do the motor control at average standard, but they are still learning and motor control still has to be thought about. E.g. when an experienced dancer is learning a new dance s/he will be able to perform the dance okay but it has not been practiced enough to become autonomous.

In the autonomous stage the performer has great experience of motor control. The performer no longer has to think about what they are doing, it becomes automatic. This motor control will only stay automatic if it is performed regularly. E.g. a very experienced dancer who has performed a dance many times and can perform it excellently every time it is performed.

The state of mind affects how well you perform. “Research sport psychologists have shown that confident athletes tend to experience better results than their less confident counterparts (Weinberg and Gould 1995)” (Psychology review). The state of mind the performer is in when participating in an event may help or hinder the performance. E.g. when performing a dance if you are confident you are more likely to perform it well. If you are not confident about your performance you are likely to do badly in the dance.

Using memory to select the correct response to similar stimuli speeds up response time. ( E.g. when a duet has been learnt well it is easier to respond to what your partner is doing.

Reaction time is quicker to an optimum age, then deteriorates.

Males have quicker reactions that females but the deteriorate quicker” ( Age and gender have a part to play in how fast the reaction time will be. The reaction time is faster at optimum ages 16 – 18. Males have a faster reaction time than females but this deteriorates quicker than females. E.g. a male dancer aged 18 will be faster than a women of 25.

“A schema is an organised packet of information stored in the long term memory. It helps us make sense of situations and provides us with guides for information” (The Cognitive Approach). Schemas are an essential part of learning. When a new skill is being learned, the new skill is assimilated and the structure of the schema is accommodated when further information is added. E.g. when learning a new dance you learn sections at a time, you assimilate the new information and start to make a schema, you add to it by assimilating the information and accommodating. The schema can be further accommodated when feedback is given to improve the skill.

In final conclusion I think that by understanding how the information processing models work help in the learning of motor control in dance. If you know the stages that you need to pass through you know how to improve upon it. I have found out about psychological and physiological factors that affect the way you react to a stimulus. By knowing them I can now work out what state of mind I need to be in to perform to be at my optimum. I have also found out about schemas, this is very helpful in gaining knowledge about how to change the scheme to improve upon performance.

Appraisal of study.

I found it difficult to find information, for my literary review, which related to dance. Most textbooks were general and I found the Internet had websites on either dance specifically with unrelated information or sites unrelated to dance with relevant information.

If I did this project again, I would write to appropriate associations involved in dance and ask specific questions and ask for specific information on dance and motor control.

My project had limitations because dancers learn their specific movements and perfect the performance to make it smooth and defined, while other sports practice basic skills but then have to cope and adapt accordingly during a game or performance situation. This changes the amount of control and skill required to produce a performance as dancers perform in closed skill areas and only have to keep their own timing. I found dance as a sport limited because many people dance for recreation and awards rather than competitively. This changes the amount and level of training and there are significant differences in the amount of motor control and the degree to which it is used or developed.