Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Kinesiology and Nutrition Sciences

First Committee Member

Gabriele Wulf

Second Committee Member

Richard Tandy

Third Committee Member

Antonio Santo

Fourth Committee Member

Joel Snyder

Number of Pages



The purpose of this study was to compare how different types of instruction effect the learning of a novel motor skill and how salivary cortisol correlates to learning differences. Participants (N = 44), average age 22.3 years (standard deviation 2.37), were randomly assigned to an autonomy-supportive, controlling-language or neutral language group which was manipulated via instructional video. Saliva was collected before and after each session, and questionnaires were given after pitching was completed during each day. Results showed that there was a significant difference among groups in throwing accuracy on performance and retention. Questionnaire results also showed significant group differences in perceived autonomy and self-efficacy. There was no difference in cortisol on either day between groups. Further analysis showed that the autonomy-supportive group was superior in all domains over the controlling-language group. From these results, we concluded autonomy-supportive language is a beneficial form of instruction for learning a novel motor skill versus controlling language due to its ability to increase self-efficacy and perception of autonomy. Further research should be done on the psychological and hormonal aspect of motor learning.


Teaching; Motor ability; Motor learning; Self-efficacy


Educational Psychology | Kinesiology | Motor Control | Psychology of Movement