Effects of Competition on the Acquisition of a Motor Skill by Young Children
The subject of competition between adults has been studied by investigators from various angles with regard to its effect upon learning or upon practice in a variety of activities. We are not justified however in assuming that the effects upon adults will be the same for children. So far as can be discovered no investigations have been made which are primarily concerned with the effects of competition upon the performance of children two, three and four years old.In many learning processes parents and teachers are inclined to use a competitive situation as a stimulus to learning. For example a child is urged to finish dressing before another child does, but the results of this stimulation are uncertain. We have no information upon the age at which competition is understood by children. We are not certain of the varying effects upon children of different temperaments and different ability. We wish to know if failure to win in a situation spurs the child on to greater effort or makes him give up the task. We want to investigate the performance of a group of children under competitive conditions, and to compare the results with individual performances.Therefore the present- experiment was undertaken to study the effects upon young children, of paired practice in a motor skill and to compare these effects with individual practice of the skill by children of comparable ability. As a check upon both types of practice a control was established by means of a group of children tested at the beginning and end of the experimental period to see what their changes in ability would be without intervening practice in the skill. Previous investigators have suggested that maturation of physical structure and general practice affect any given skill about as much as specific practice. We have in the control group a check on these factors.