Part-whole practice of movement sequences

J Mot Behav. 2004 Mar;36(1):51-61. doi: 10.3200/JMBR.36.1.51-61.


A 16-element movement sequence was taught under part-whole and whole-practice conditions. Participants (N = 18) produced a right-arm lever movement to sequentially presented target locations. The authors constructed part-whole practice by providing practice on only the 1st 8 elements on the 1st day of practice (100 repetitions of the 8-element sequence) and on all 16 elements on the 2nd day of practice (100 repetitions of the 16-element sequence). The whole-practice group practiced all 16 elements on both days (100 repetitions of the 16-element sequence per day). No differences in sequence structure or in movement duration of the 16-element sequence were noted on the retention test (Day 3). On transfer tests in which the 1st and last 8 elements were tested separately, however, the participants in the part-whole practice group performed more quickly than the participants in the whole-practice group, especially on the last 8 elements. Participants in the whole-practice group appeared to code the sequence so that it was relatively difficult to fully partition it into separate movements. Thus, on the transfer tests, there continued to be residual effects of the 8 elements that did not have to be produced but slowed down the rate of responding for the whole-practice group. That finding was not observed for the part-whole practice group.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Feedback
  • Humans
  • Orientation*
  • Practice, Psychological*
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Reaction Time
  • Retention, Psychology*
  • Serial Learning*
  • Transfer, Psychology