Lab 10 Variable Practice

Statement of the Problem

The purpose of this lab experiment is to examine schema development through variable practice.


Chapter 10

Materials Needed

•   Football

•   Tape

•   Wall

•    220 cm (h) x 200 cm (w) target,  divided into zones 20 cm high, mounted on the wall (see Figure 1)

•   Individual  Data Sheet

•   Group  Data Sheet


The task to be performed is a long football  snap toward a target.  To perform  this task, participants will place the ball at the starting  location, bend down facing away from the target and snap the ball through their legs towards the target zone.

You will be divided into two groups.  Group  1, the Constant Practice group,  will perform  30 trials from the same starting  location, 5m from the wall. Group  2, the Variable Practice group,  will perform  10 trials at each of three different starting  locations (4m, 5m, and 7m) for a total  of 30 trials. You will work in pairs within each group, taking turns in the roles of experimenter and participant. The experimenter will record the point value of the zone the football  made contact  with on the target.  At the completion of 30 trials, you will switch roles. Participants in both  groups will then perform  a 10 trial transfer  test from a 6m distance.


1.  Calculate  your mean absolute  (AE) and constant error (CE) scores for the practice and transfer  trials on the  Individual  Data Sheet. Absolute error is the unsigned deviation  from the target (in other words,  perform  the calculation without including the positive or negative sign). Constant error is the signed deviation  from the target.

2.  Gather  the mean AE and CE scores from the other members of Groups  1 and 2 and record the mean scores for each individual  into the appropriate column  in the Group  Data Sheet.

3.  Create a bar graph at illustrating the AE and CE group scores for the transfer  test.


1.  Explain the effects of constant versus variable practice during (a) the practice phase and (b) the transfer  test.

2.  Examine the bar graph illustrating AE and CE group scores. AE provides information about  the magnitude of error while CE provides an indication of directional bias or directional error tendencies.  What do these two scores tell you about  the effects of constant and variable practice?

3.  Do the results of this experiment support the notion  that variable practice facilitates schema development? Explain  your response.