Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The purpose of this series of experiments was to assess contextual interference effects for novices learning an open skill. Previous research has found that a random practice schedule as opposed to a blocked or repetitious schedule of practice facilitates retention and transfer in the learning of motor skills. The task required female subjects to throw a ball at a target to coincide the arrival of a trackway of light with the arrival of the ball. All subjects were inexperienced in throwing and open sport skills. Experiment 1 was designed to test contextual interference results on novices learning an open skill and found support for past contextual interference for no-knowledge of results transfer, but not for novel stimulus speed transfer. The inability of the novice subjects to form solution strategies suggested the need for such strategies in order to take advantage of the processing demands of random practice. Experiment 2 employed verbal protocol methods to establish strategies used during the performance of the task by experienced female throwers. The strategies of the experienced throwers were then implemented into the practice trials of a new group of novice subjects in a third experiment to enhance development in the second stage of learning. The results of Experiment 3 did not follow predictions of contextual interference. These findings support previous research concerning the inability of novices to benefit from random practice when learning an open motor skill and suggests that certain learner characteristics and task parameters are necessary when random practice advantages are predicted.