Information Processing

I have been asked to explain how an information-processing model can explain the production of skilled performance. This will include information about sensory input, perception, short term memory, decision making, effector control, effectors, feedback and application to a specific sport. I have also been asked to examine and discuss the different methods teachers and coaches can use to enable them to teach new skills with maximum effectiveness.

The information processing model starts off with sensory input, weather it is to catch a ball or to perform a gymnastic movement we always use our senses to locate ourselves in a suitable position and decide on the requirements f the task. Our main sensory input systems we use in physical activity are vision, hearing and propriorception. The body from the information passed through the nervous system can then produce the skill which is, the brain and the spinal cord, the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system, which comprises the nerves that connect the spinal cord with all the parts of the body.

Vision and hearing (audition). This allows us to see the image through visual perception for example to see where to position yourself to catch a ball. Hearing enables us for example to hear when and where ball bounces which could help us shorten our reaction times and also when a whistle is blown. Propriorception the three components of propriorception are touch, equilibrium and kinaesthesia. It allows us to know where our body is and the extent of which muscles are contracted or joints extended. It allows us to feel a racket or ball.

The sensory information has to then be made sense of by the brain, perception, this is the next box on the model. “Is the process by which the brain interprets and makes sense of the information its is receiving from the sensory organs. ” (Bob Davis 2000) The three elements of perception are Detection, Comparison, and Recognition. Detection we are not always aware of all the things our brain detects. In a game of invasion there are a lot of things and people around in your vision but your brain would concentrate on the player you are marking.

The brain only registers everything the sense organs detect for a very short moment, if we do not attend it further it fades out of our system. When we attend something we have sensed a message is passed through the memory and compared with similar things already stored in the memory. This is called Comparison; comparison has two levels of comparative analysis within the perceptual process, preattentive and postattentive. When the message is matched it is identified and recognised, Recognition also has two phases, preattentive and postattentive.

The next part of the model is short-term memory, detection, comparison and recognition all rely on memory to function and provide information to the player. We are not conscious of our short term memory, although it can hold a large amount of information, it only does so for a very short time, maybe only one second, this is because the information held here is irrelevant so it I filtered out so the system is not overloaded. “If the perceptual mechanism decides that the stimuli is not relevant or important, the sensory memory held in the short-term sensory store fades and is lost. ”

(Bob Davis 2000) When stimuli is passed from the short-term sensory stores to the short-term memory the incoming stimulus is compared with similar stimuli which has been previously learned and stored in the long-term memory. People’s short-term memory is normally between five and nine, but can vary if studied for longer. The process of using your long-term memory is recognition. An image (or sound, sensation etc) which you see can be compared with something you already know in your long-term memory, and if you feel it close enough you can name it, you know what it is and what to do.

Our brain is constantly doing this but we are not conscious of it. The next part of the information-processing model is Decision-making, we get the information to make a decision from our perceptual ability, we make sense of the information and decide on an appropriate response. The speed of which we make a decision is called the reaction time. In port the shorter the reaction time this better, if you respond quicker to a gun at the beginning of a race you will have an advantage over the other athletes.

Effector control is the control of the senses through the central nervous system and effectors are which makes the movement happen, the muscles. The final part of the information-processing model is feedback, this is the loop back to the start. This is the final evaluation of the outcome of the performed skill. There are three different feedback loops, exteroceptive feedback, this is from the outcome of the skill. It is passed back to the performer through the senses and short-term memory. May come from the observation of the performer, team-mates, coach or a recorded video.

The next feedback loop is proprioception feedback, this feedback comes from the muscles and tendons, and the balance sensors, which gives information to the short-term memory about the feel of the movement through rhythm and co-ordination. The last feedback loop is kinaesthetic feedback, the information goes directly from the muscles, tendons and joints to the spinal cord. We are not conscious of how we respond to this information. I will now give an example for what I have explained and relate them to a sport, I have chosen tennis.

The player can see the opponent, the net and the ball and he can feel the racket in his hand, his feet on the ground, and can feel weather he has performed a move correctly, intrinsic feedback. This all relates to sensory input. This information then has to be made sense of, Perception. He will detect everything around him but will only concentrate on the other players moves, and the position of the ball. If the other player has performed a particular move the brain will compare this with similar codes that have been stored in the memory then will it is matched it is recognised.

Certain things that happen in the game will only be stored in the short-term memory that could just be a few seconds, but skills which have been practised and concentrated on will be stored in the long-term memory, like the skill to serve. Throughout the game tennis the player has to make many decisions, what way to run to hit the ball, which way to hit the ball etc. in order to have a successful game the players reaction time must be very short. The feedback to the player can be from him or herself, their coach, the press if it has been recorded for television or even the opponent.

There are many different styles of teaching although different ways like ‘trial and error’ and ‘learning by experience’ can also be an effective way. There is known to be four elements of the teaching process. These are, instructing, demonstrating, applying, and confirming. Instructing is telling the learner what to do and how to do it. They should give them enough information for them to go away and do it. This is usually done verbally or/and with worksheets. The information should be very clear.

Demonstrating is a good way of showing the learner how to perform the skill, but it has to be performed accurately and clearly to be effective to the learner. Demonstrating makes it easier for the skill to be stored in the long-term memory. From these instructions the learner then has to apply the skill, this means doing the skill and practising it over time. The teachers role here is to guide the learner to apply what they have learned to the activity. After this the teacher has to confirm. This is reviewing what has been learned and the progress made.

The teacher can also ask the learner questions to encourage self-evaluation and reinforce learning. There are so many different styles of teaching but I am only going to explain three of them, command style, practise style and reciprocal style. Command style is very much how it sounds, the teacher makes al the decisions and takes complete control over what is learnt and how. Examples of when this is used are in aerobics classes and keep-fit. This style of teaching is not advisable otherwise as it is better to hand some decisions and responsibilities to the learner.

Practise style is when the teacher sets the task and the learners have to go away and practise in their own time. The teacher will occasionally observe to see how much improvement has been made and how capable the learner is. Reciprocal style is when the learners work in pairs, one will do the task and one will observe. The teacher will make the task is understood for successful completion. The teacher will help the observer with their teaching and the observer helps the doer. This allows a lot of immediate feedback compared with teaching a large group all together. The teacher should always choose a suitable style for the learners.

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