A Test of Magill's Closed-to-Open Continuum for Skill Development

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Magills arrangement of Gentile's 2 × 2 matrix of skills classification into a closed-to-open-skill learning continuum was investigated. 63 volunteer university students were assigned to three experimental groups who performed different learning sequences on the Bachman Ladder for four practice sessions, climbing the unsupported Bachman Ladder (Task 4) in the final scored session. Following practice sessions, a five-trial, scored, Task 4 “retention” session was performed. Analysis of variance of retention trials indicated no difference between the practice groups regardless of practice sequence. Comparison of five selected trials from the Task 4 practice session and the five Task 4 retention performances, using a 4 × 2 analysis of variance with repeated measures, indicated significant group and time effects but no interaction. While Magill's arrangement of related activities into closed-to-open-skill learning continuums is supported, the specific arrangement of the lead-up skills does not appear critical. The question of task specificity for any learning continuum is raised, and further issues for research are proposed.

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