Age-related differences: use of strategies in a timing task

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Liu, Ting

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A rich literature documents the benefit of using strategies to enhance learning in the cognitive domain. The literature is less robust with respect to the usefulness of the same strategies when performing a motor skill. No information exists in the motor domain with regard to a child’s ability to use strategies in the recall of motor timing tasks. The purposes of this dissertation were to determine (1) whether the recall performance and the type of recall strategy used for a timing task changes developmentally, (2) if superior performance was associated with strategy use, and (3) whether children who were poor performers in the task would benefit from learning to apply a specific strategy. Two experiments were performed. Experiment 1 examined whether younger children (5-7 years) differed from older children (8-10 years) in strategy

viii use during the performance of a timing task. Experiment 2 examined how instruction in the use of a specific strategy influenced children’s subsequent performance. In Experiment 1, 18 younger children and 18 older children were asked to recall selected pedaling cadences. The results revealed that the majority of the younger children did not use strategies, while most of the older children used strategies in the timing task performance. Children who used strategies performed with less error than the children who did not use strategies. The superior performance by the older children was observed at all cadences when compared to the performance of younger children. In Experiment 2, 18 children with high errors in Experiment 1 were assigned to an experimental or control group. The children in the experimental group were taught to use a specific strategy to assist their recall of the pedaling cadences. The results showed that children who received the instruction in strategy use improved their performance. In summary, two experiments were conducted in which age-related differences in strategy use were found when performing a timing task. An intervention given to the poor performers led to improvement in performance independent of age. These findings have direct relevance for use of strategies to effectively teach timing tasks in children between 5 and 10 years of age