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

Janet Dufek

Fourth Committee Member

Daniel Young

Number of Pages



An external focus of attention in has been shown to produce better performance in practice and retention of a motor skill when compared to an internal focus or control conditions in which no attentional focus cues are given to the learner (for a review, see Wulf, 2012). Enhancing learner expectancy (e.g., via positive feedback) has also been shown to improve learning (e.g., Lewthwaite & Wulf, 2010). This study sought to investigate whether combining the positive effects of an external focus of attention with an enhanced learner expectancy (through positive social-comparative feedback) would enhance learning relative to either variable alone or a control condition. Participants were assigned to one of 4 groups: External Focus and Enhanced Expectancy (EF/EE), External Focus (EF), Enhanced Expectancy (EE), and Control (C). Participant practiced an overhand throwing task using their non-dominant arm at a target positioned 7.5 meters away for 65 throws on the first day, with each group receiving the appropriate feedback and attentional cues related to their group assignment. The second day consisted of a retention test of 10 throws at the same target positioned at the practiced distance of 7.5 meters, and a transfer test of 10 throws at the same target positioned at 8.5 meters away with no instructions given to any group to measure learning.

Throwing performance in the group that received both EE and EF was found to be superior to that of the control and the groups that only received one treatment of EE or EF. The EE and EF groups performed at similar levels while outperforming the control group. Self-efficacy also produced similar results with the EF/EE group reporting the highest self-efficacy among all groups. EF and EE were found to each individually have effects on self-efficacy, suggesting independent effects on increased self-efficacy, this could have been a factor on the EF/EE having the highest self-efficacy scores.

The results of this study indicate that EF/EE when combined produces an additive effect to performance and learning of a relatively novel motor skill. Increased self-efficacy can also be observed with the implementation of the combined treatments of EF and EE. The discovery of the additive effect has the potential to open new research possibilities in motor learning on any other possible combination and additive effects.


Attention; External focus; Feedback (Psychology); Focus of attention; Motor control; Motor learning; Movement education; Movement; Psychology of; Positive feedback; Positive psychology


Educational Psychology | Kinesiology | Motor Control | Psychology of Movement

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




IN COPYRIGHT. For more information about this rights statement, please visit