Using a Delphi technique to seek consensus regarding definitions, descriptions and classification of terms related to implicit and explicit forms of motor learning

PLoS One. 2014 Jun 26;9(6):e100227. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0100227. eCollection 2014.


Background: Motor learning is central to domains such as sports and rehabilitation; however, often terminologies are insufficiently uniform to allow effective sharing of experience or translation of knowledge. A study using a Delphi technique was conducted to ascertain level of agreement between experts from different motor learning domains (i.e., therapists, coaches, researchers) with respect to definitions and descriptions of a fundamental conceptual distinction within motor learning, namely implicit and explicit motor learning.

Methods: A Delphi technique was embedded in multiple rounds of a survey designed to collect and aggregate informed opinions of 49 international respondents with expertise related to motor learning. The survey was administered via an online survey program and accompanied by feedback after each round. Consensus was considered to be reached if ≥70% of the experts agreed on a topic.

Results: Consensus was reached with respect to definitions of implicit and explicit motor learning, and seven common primary intervention strategies were identified in the context of implicit and explicit motor learning. Consensus was not reached with respect to whether the strategies promote implicit or explicit forms of learning.

Discussion: The definitions and descriptions agreed upon may aid translation and transfer of knowledge between domains in the field of motor learning. Empirical and clinical research is required to confirm the accuracy of the definitions and to explore the feasibility of the strategies that were identified in research, everyday practice and education.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Consensus*
  • Delphi Technique*
  • Expert Testimony
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Terminology as Topic*

Grant support

This study was financially supported by Stichting Alliantie Innovatie (Innovation Alliance Foundation), RAAK-international (Registration number: 2011-3-33int). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.