Psychomotor Instruction:
The Development of Physical Skills

Note: The theory overview presented here is all but directly quoted from Dr. Reigeluth's summary. Only minor edits have been made by me for my own clarity. (see bottom of page for full citation)


Alexander Romiszowski (Syracuse University)

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Goals & Preconditions

  • The primary goal of this theory is to foster the development of psycho-motor (physical) skills. It is intended all situations.

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  • Physical skills,
  • Automatizing physical skills,
  • The integration of different approaches and apparently conflicting viewpoints.

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1. Impart knowledge of what should be done.

-For reproductive skills: use expository methods.
-For productive skills: use experiential, discovery-learning techniques.

2. Develop the basic skill (step-by-step actions).

-Demonstrate the skill.
-Provide controlled practice.

3. Develop proficiency (flow, automatization, generalization)

To impart knowledge:

  • For tasks that require no new knowledge: Demonstrate without explanations.
  • For tasks that require limited new knowledge: Demonstrate and explain simultaneously.
  • For tasks that require much new knowledge but little new skill:
    - For mainly visual relationships: Use exploratory practice followed by expository review.
    - For a single, multi-stage movement: Demonstrate the sequential action pattern before providing practice.
  • Promote the mental rehearsal of the task.
  • Accompany demonstrations with verbal cueing of the steps.
  • Provide all demonstrations from the viewpoint of the performer

To provide practice:

  • Teach integrated, coordinated tasks by the whole-task method.
    - But teach prerequisite subskills first.
  • Teach tasks made of relatively independent actions by the progressive-parts method.
  • Provide long, continuous practice sessions for productive tasks.
  • Provide short, spaced practice for reproductive tasks.
    - Use mental rehearsal between spaced practice sessions.
  • Use forced pacing for high-speed tasks.
  • Use a progression of specific performance goals during practice.

To provide feedback on practice:

  • Provide after-the-fact knowledge of results rather than feedback that controls performance.
  • Correct aspects of performance rather than just giving right/wrong information.
  • For productive tasks, provide debriefing or reflection-in-action.

To promote transfer:

  • The more productive a task is, the more variability the practice should have.
  • Help the learner develop a motor schema having all the important attributes for performance of the task.
  • Promote over-learning of the task.
  • Don't progress to more difficult tasks too soon

To use task fidelity appropriately:

  • Use physical fidelity for reproductive tasks.
  • Use functional fidelity for productive tasks.
  • Use perceived fidelity rather than technical fidelity.
  • Progress from lower to higher fidelity.
  • Sacrifice fidelity when doing so will improve learning.

To develop the "inner self":

  • Use relaxation exercises.
  • Imagine being a known expert.
  • Engage in appropriate self-talk.

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Major Contributions

  • This theory deals with all kinds of physical skills for all kinds of situations. Demonstrates how apparently conflicting viewpoints can be integrated into a coherent scheme that may meet practitiioner needs better than a more ideologicalfixation on one viewpoint (which has important implications for the cognitive domain).

Additional Resources


Note: The theory overview presented here is all but directly quoted from Dr. Reigeluth's summary. Only minor edits have been made by me for my own clarity. (see bottom of page for full citation)

Source: Romiszowski, A. (1999). The Development of Physical Skills: Instruction in the Psychomotor Domain. In C. M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional-Design Theories and Models: A New Paradigm of Instructional Theory, vol. II. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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