Theories and Principles for Planning and Enabling Learning

Fitts and Posner's Phases of Learning

In order to start to learn a new motor skill our body needs to learn
how to control its limbs in such a way that will benefit a certain
action. Obviously we don't learn this straight away it takes time to
learn and to process all this information so that we can improve and
progress from being a novice to being proficient.

Fitts and Posener were able to identify several different stages in
the learning process. Learning is a complex process and the stages, or
phases labelled by Fitts and Posner, are not clear-cut. You will be
able to create more successful learning processes if these phases are

In 1964 Paul Fitts and Michael Posner developed a theory to explain
how our body learns to do this. They divided it into three learning
stages which have been split up and explained below: -

1) The cognitive phase

This is first stage of learning where the performer learns what needs
to be done. The performer needs to find out,

- What is required

- What task is to be performed

- The rules are

- The correct way in holding specific equipment, e.g. a golf club

In this stage the emphasis is on the performer understanding what
needs to be achieved, so that initial simple plans of action can be
followed and achieved to a certain level of play. This specific stage
involves a lot of trial end error, so that the professional teaching
can give positive feedback to the performer, in order to improve his/
her game. The successful strategies can be reinforced at this stage
and unsuccessful should not be dismissed due to the fact that all
experiences can be worthwhile.

External feedback is also achieved via observing other performers at
higher levels. For example a teacher may show a learning player,
trying to get a grip on the basics, the swing of Tiger woods, so that
the learner can manipulate it into their own swing.

The skill is mainly performed in a closed environment with as...