Training physical education students to self-regulate during basketball free throw practice
Timothy J. Cleary
The additive effects of self-regulation training in forethought, performance, and self-reflection phase processes on acquiring a novel motoric skill (i.e., basketball free throws) and self-reflective beliefs were studied with 50 college students. The results showed a positive linear trend between the number of self-regulatory phases, in which the participants were trained, and their free throw shooting performance and shooting adaptation. The two- and three-phase training groups displayed significantly more accurate free throws and were able to self-correct their shooting form more frequently following missed shots than all other groups. Participants who received three-phase training displayed the most adaptive motivational profile, characterized by making strategic attributions and adaptive inferences and by using self/process criteria during self-evaluations.
Key words: attributions, motivation, self-evaluation, self-monitoring
The development of sport expertise is an important I issue that has received considerable attention in the sport psychology literature. Although many researchers have argued that expert performance in sports may be attributable to innate characteristics or talent (Bouchard, Malina, & Perusse, 1997; Rankinen et al., 2001), other researchers have shown that sport expertise also depends on learned cognitive processes and behaviors (Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-Romer, 1993; Hodges & Starkes, 1996; Paull & Glencross, 1997; Williams & Davids, 1995). According to Ericsson et al. (1993) athletes become highly skilled by engaging in many hours of highly structured and organized training sessions. However, much less is known about the processes individuals use during self-directed practice sessions. What types of personal processes and beliefs impact the effectiveness of a learner’s solitary practice episodes?
These issues have attracted the attention of researchers interested in self-regulation of athletic learning. Although a variety of models, such as Kirschenbaum’s (1984) five-step cyclical feedback model, Singer and colleagues’ (Singer, Flora, & Abourezk, 1989; Singer, Lidor, & Cauraugh, 1993) five-step cognitive learning strategy approach, and Ericsson and colleagues’ (Ericsson & Charness, 1994; Ericsson et al., 1993) model of deliberate practice have been developed to examine self-directed learning and performance in sports, a social cognitive perspective on self-regulated learning was used in this study because of its utility in assessing multiple self-regulation processes and self-motivational beliefs (Bandura, 1986; Zimmerman, 2000). From this perspective, self-regulation is defined as self-generated thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are planned and cyclically adapted based on performance feedback to attain self-set goals (Zimmerman, 1989). This cyclical feedback loop is characterized by three phases: (a) forethought (i.e., processes that precede efforts to learn or perform), (b) performance control (i.e., processes occurring during learning efforts), and (c) self-reflection (i.e., processes occurring after learning or performance). These phases are hypothesized to be interdependent so that changes in forethought processes will induce changes in performance phase processes, which will, in turn, influence self-reflection phase processes. A self-regulatory cycle is completed when self-reflection processes impact forethought processes during future learning attempts (see Figure 1).
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
Although the cyclical feedback loop is hypothesized to be sequential, it is possible for processes within nonsequential phases to influence each other. For example, self-efficacy beliefs (i.e., forethought phase process) have been shown to influence various self-reflection phase processes, such as self-evaluation and attributions (Silver, Mitchell, & Gist, 1995; Zimmerman & Bandura, 1994). That is, individuals who are highly efficacious will often set higher self-evaluative standards and perceive their performance phase outcomes as more personally controllable.
The forethought phase involves developing a plan and performance standard that will guide one’s efforts during a particular athletic activity. Two key processes in this phase of the model include goal setting and strategic planning. Goal setting has been defined as deciding on specific learning or performance outcomes and has been shown to have an important impact on athletes’ performance and motivation (Lerner, Ostrow, Yura, & Etzel, 1996; Locke & Latham, 1985). Strategic planning is another important process that involves purposively selecting a strategy to maximize one’s learning or performance (Winne, 1997; Zimmerman, 2000). In essence, these two processes are critical when an athlete first attempts to learn a skill, because they can enhance his or her level of effort and persistence following failure and enable him or her to become more proactive and purposeful when learning the skill (Locke & Latham, 1990; Zimmerman, 2000).
This forethoughtful approach to learning and performance influences athletes’ performance phase processes, such as self-control and self-observation. Self-control processes guide the learning of a skill and include important subprocesses, such as using task strategies. These strategies refer to actions and processes that reduce a specific task to its essential components and maximize learning and performance. Self-observation has been defined as systematically monitoring one’s own performance (Zimmerman, 1989) and includes subprocesses, such as self-recording, which involves writing down the processes and/or outcomes of one’s actions. This phase is particularly important, because the learners implement specific task strategies and gather information to evaluate the effects of the strategic plan, including goal progress.
The final phase of the cyclical feedback loop is self-reflection, which consists of two processes: self-judgments and self-reactions. In self-judgment, individuals engage in two further cognitive activities: self-evaluation and causal attributions. Under self-reactions, individuals develop adaptive inferences. In general, self-judgment involves using information gathered during the performance control phase to evaluate one’s performance. Self-regulated individuals will self-evaluate the adequacy of an outcome by comparing it to specific criteria, such as mastery or normative (Zimmerman 2000). They will also reflect on the causes of that outcome, a process labeled causal attributions (Weiner, 1986). For example, if a baseball player strikes out four times during a game, a causal attribution would involve the player’s perception about why he was not able to make adequate contact with the ball. This self-judgment is a key component of the cyclical model of self-regulation, because it directly impacts the self-reaction subprocess–adaptive inferences. Adaptive inferences are conclusions an athlete draws about what to adjust to improve future performances (Zimmerman, 2000). This type of self-reaction is particularly important, because it can facilitate or hinder strategic change and adaptation. A primary purpose of this study was to show that when novice basketball players make strategic attributions and adaptive inferences they will be better able to improve on poor free throws during practice and will show overall better shooting performance.
Zimmerman’s feedback model has been used in several studies involving motoric tasks such as dart-throwing, volleyball, and free-throw shooting tasks (Cleary & Zimmerman, 2001; Kitsantas & Zimmerman, 1998, 2002; Zimmerman & Kitsantas, 1996). In general, the results showed that training in forethought phase (e.g., setting process goals) and performance control phase processes (e.g., self-recording) had a significant impact on learners’ motoric performance as well as their motivation (e.g., persistence). In addition to the separate effects of these two phases, social cognitive researchers have examined the combined effects of training individuals to use multiple self-regulatory processes when practicing motoric skills. For example, Zimmerman and colleagues found that self-recording additively enhanced the effects of goal setting across measures of dart skill attainment and motivation (Kitstantas & Zimmerman, 1998). Although these findings are important, to our knowledge no researchers to date have investigated the effects of training novice athletes to use a complete cycle of self-regulatory processes and beliefs.
In the present study, we extended previous descriptive research showing that individual differences in basketball free-throw shooting skill were related to the self-regulatory phase processes and beliefs of novices, nonexperts, and experts (Cleary & Zimmerman, 2001). We sought to determine whether training in specific self-regulatory phase processes and beliefs leads to improved athletic performance using a microanalytic research methodology. This approach involves asking specific questions that address well established psychological processes and beliefs at key points during the execution of a context-specific task. Each participant was observed separately, and researchers developed context-specific information by intensive qualitative and quantitative analyses. Simple open- or closed-ended questions are used in microanalyses because they are easily understood in the context in which they are asked. To our knowledge, this is the first effort to investigate causal relations among the three self-regulatory phases on a motoric task using a microanalytic methodology.
We hypothesized that there are additive effects of one-, two-, or three-phase training on novice athletes’ ability to learn to effectively shoot free throws. The one-phase training group was instructed in how to set forethought phase goals, whereas the two-phase training group was instructed in both goal-setting and performance-phase self-recording. The three-phase training group was instructed in goal-setting, self-recording, and self-reflection phase processes of making strategic causal attributions and adaptive inferences. It was anticipated that one- and two-phase training would influence self-reflection phase processes and beliefs to some degree due to the cyclical dependence of later phase processes on earlier phase processes. However, it was expected that the additional training in the self-reflection phase in the third group would be optimal. Thus, a positive linear relationship was predicted between the students’ free-throw performance and the number of self-regulatory phases in which they were trained. In addition, pair-wise differences were expected between adjacent phase groups–with the three-phase group hypothesized to outperform the two-phase group, which in turn would surpass the one-phase group in free-throw shooting performance. Similar differences across groups were expected to emerge for self-reflection phase processes, such as causal attributions, self-evaluation, and adaptive inferences. Finally, based on theoretical predictions and prior research (Cleary & Zimmerman, 2001; Zimmerman, 2000), it was expected that adaptive inferences and causal attributions would be positively correlated to shooting performance as well as self-evaluation processes.
This study consisted of 50 college students (40 women and 10 men) drawn from physical education classes at a local college in a large eastern city. Participants’ average age was 21.7 years (SD= 2.9), while their ethnic composition was 32 Caucasian, 4 African American, 11 Hispanic, 1 Asian American, and 2 Mixed Ethnicity. Participants were selected based on multiple criteria to ensure they were novice basketball players. A participant qualified as a novice if he or she: (a) earned a pretest shooting performance score of less than 27 (i.e., cut-off score established during pilot testing), (b) had not played organized team basketball on a school team beyond the seventh grade, and (c) displayed three or fewer shooting techniques taught in this study. Of the 150 students who were asked to participate, 73 did not meet one or more of the criteria, and 27 declined to participate. Most of the individuals who did not meet at least one of the criteria were men who had pretest shooting scores over 27. The 50 participants provided written consent to participate in this study.
The basketball shooting task consisted of a regulation size basket and backboard (i.e., 18-inch [45.72 cm] diameter rim 10 feet [3.048 m] from the ground). The females used a regulation college women’s basketball while the men used a regulation college men’s basketball. The participants were asked to shoot at the basket while standing behind a regulation free throw line (i.e., 15 feet [4.57 m] from the basket).
Shooting Performance. A test of shooting performance was designed to assess the accuracy of the participants’ flee-throw attempts. The participants earned 1 to 5 points for each shot according to the following criteria: (a) 5 points for swishing the shot (not hitting any part of the rim), (b) 4 points for making the shot after hitting the rim, (c) 3 points for hitting the front or back of the rim but not making the shot, (d) 2 points for hitting the side of the rim and not making the shot, and (e) 1 point for completely missing the rim or hitting the backboard first. We awarded more points for a missed shot hitting the front or back of the rim (i.e., 3 points) than a missed shot hitting the sides of the rim (i.e., 2 points) based on feedback from two high school varsity basketball coaches as well as information provided by expert free throw shooters (Amber, 1996). In essence, missed shots that are either long or short often suggest participants executed most of the key shooting techniques (i.e., stance, grip, elbow, and direction follow through) properly, but either their knee bend or strength of their follow through was off. In contrast, missed shots that hit the left or right part of the rim usually signify a more serious alignment problem, suggestive of multiple shooting form weaknesses (Amber, 1996). In addition, given that short/long missed shots have a better chance of going in after hitting the rim than shots drifting to the left or right, we awarded the former type of shots more points. All participants took 10 shots during both pre- and posttest phases. Their shooting performance score was the average of these 10 shots.
Shooting Adaptation. A test of shooting adaptation was developed to assess the participants’ ability to recover from poor practice shots during the middle 6 min of a 12-min practice session. Shots taken during the initial or final 3 min of the time interval were excluded to control the effects of warming up and fatigue, respectively. Poor shots were defined as those attaining fewer than 3 points on the 5-point scale. Improvements were defined as any increase in score following a poor shot (i.e., a score of 3 or more). To control for differential numbers of practice shots, the frequency of improvements were converted to percentages.
Self-Evaluation. The participants were also asked to answer a question assessing the self-evaluative criteria they used to judge their satisfaction with their performance. They received a piece of paper with the following question, “What did you use to judge your degree of satisfaction?” and the following options: (a) the performance of others, (b) the percentage of shots you made, (c) your use of the correct method or strategy, (d) your improvement during practice, (e) other factors, and (f) don’t know. Participants were permitted to select only one answer, and the examiner recorded their oral responses.
Attribution Scale. The participants were asked to answer a question about the reasons for their unsuccessful free-throw attempts. Following two consecutive missed free-throw attempts during the posttest phase, the examiner asked, “Why do you think you missed those last two shots?” The examiner recorded their verbal responses verbatim and categorized the responses according to the reason for failure. Two coders independently classified these attributions into one of 10 categories identified in prior research (Cleary & Zimmerman, 2001): specific technique, general technique, confidence/ability, focus/ concentration, effort, practice, rhythm, distractions, don’t know, and other. An example of a specific technique attribution is: “didn’t keep my elbow in as I shot;” while an example of a general technique attribution is: “I did not use the shooting strategy.” A focus/concentration response is: “lost my concentration on what I was doing;” whereas an effort response is: “I was getting lazy.” The practice category includes responses such as: “I seldom practice free throws;” while rhythm responses include: “I was too tense” and “I rushed the shots.” An example of a distraction response is: “the noise in the background bothered me.” The coders coded participants’ responses from unlabeled protocols to prevent scoring bias. Kappa analyses revealed an interrater agreement of .81 for the coded attributions, indicating a strong level of agreement (Fleiss, 1981; Landis & Koch, 1977).
Adaptive Inferences Scale. The participants were asked to answer a question concerning the strategy or plan they needed to perform well. The investigator asked, “What do you need to do to make the next shot?” immediately following the attribution question. The experimenter recorded participants’ oral responses verbatim; two coders independently classified the responses into one of nine strategy categories. Because individuals often choose strategies based on their attribution responses, an attempt was made to create parallel categories within the attribution and strategy measures (specific technique, general technique, focus/concentration, effort, practice, rhythm, distractions, don’t know, and other). It should be noted that the category “ability/confidence,” which was part of the attribution classification, was not included in the adaptive inferences classification, because it is more reflective of a self-perception than a potential strategy. This classification system is consistent with prior research (Cleary & Zimmerman, 2001). The coders classified the participants’ responses from unlabeled protocols to prevent scoring bias. Kappa analysis revealed an interrater agreement of .91 for the coded strategies, also indicating a strong level of agreement (Fleiss, 1981; Landis & Koch, 1977).
Design and Procedure
This study consisted of five groups: three experimental and two control groups. The experimental conditions were based on the type of self-regulatory instruction the participants received (i.e., setting process goals, self-recording performance processes, making strategic attributions, and adaptive inferences) and included a three-phase, a two-phase, and a one-phase self-regulation group. Participants in the two control conditions did not receive any self-regulatory instruction. There were two control groups: practice-only and no-practice. All participants were randomly assigned to one of the five conditions and were tested individually by the principal investigator in their school gymnasium.
During the first 10 min of the session, the examiner provided shooting instructions and demonstrated the correct shooting form. All five groups in the study received identical shooting instructions to ensure that observed practice differences in free-throw shooting were not due to variations in knowledge of technique. In general, these instructions covered: stance (i.e., lining up feet to point at the rim), grip (i.e., placing left hand on the side of the ball and middle finger of right hand on the black air hole), elbow in (i.e., keeping the shooting arm in toward the body and pointed at the rim during the shot), knee bend (i.e., bend legs so the knees come just over toes), and follow through (i.e., extend arm upward and flick the shooting hand). Although not identical, the steps of these instructions were similar to the directions given to novice dart throwers in prior research (Zimmerman & Kitsantas, 1996). Following these directions, the experimental groups received additional instruction that focused on self-regulation processes. The participants assigned to the three-phase self-regulation group were instructed to set process goals (a forethought phase process), self-record (a performance phase process), and make strategic attributions and adjustments following missed free throws (self-reflection phase processes). Setting process goals involved focusing on properly executing the final four steps of the shooting process (i.e., grip, elbow in, knee bend, follow through) rather than on shooting outcomes. The examiner showed the participants a cue card delineating the process goal. This group was then taught how to use a self-recording form to monitor the step(s) of the strategy they were focusing on while shooting. This self-recording form also allowed the participants to self-reflect on whether they missed any shots, the reasons why they missed the shots, and the strategies needed to make the next shot. In general, they were asked to use this form after every trial of two consecutive shots. The examiner modeled the strategic self-reflection process through verbal instructions and by allowing participants to refer to a Strategy Cue Card as they formulated their attributions and strategies. This cue card linked the type of miss (i.e., ball went to the right or left, short or long) with one or more of the shooting strategies.
The participants assigned to the two-phase self-regulation group received the same forethought phase goal setting and performance phase self-recording training as the three-phase group, but they were not instructed to self-reflect regarding strategic attributions and modifications. The one-phase self-regulation group received instruction only in the forethought phase process–goal setting. Although both of the control groups received the identical shooting instructions as the experimental groups, they did not receive training in any of the self-regulation phase techniques.
Following the shooting instructions and self-regulation training, all experimental groups and the practice-only control group had 12 min to practice free-throw shooting. Consistent with prior research, the groups were equated for length of practice time rather than number of shots taken (Zimmerman & Kitsantas, 1996, 1997). We elected not to equate the groups on the number of practice shots because of a potential confound to the study. That is, given that the two- and three-phase experimental groups were required to self-record their performance processes after each pair of shots, their “practice session” would have been much longer than the other groups. As a result, any group differences could have been attributable to the length of session rather than the training–a potentially serious confounding variable. A posttest evaluation followed this practice activity for all five groups in terms of their shooting performance, self-evaluation, causal attributions, and adaptive inferences. It should be noted that the assessment procedures used in this study followed a microanalytic framework, which involved asking specific questions about important self-regulatory and motivational processes at key points during learning and performance efforts. A more detailed description of this assessment methodology is provided elsewhere (Cleary & Zimmerman, 2004).
Group Differences Across Performance-Based Measures
Table 1 displays the posttest means for all metric dependent variables for each experimental condition. Before conducting the main analyses, a preliminary analysis was conducted to assess whether students’ gender affected their shooting performance. No gender differences were found, and the data were pooled for subsequent analyses.
A single factor (experimental group) analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) model was used to assess group differences in posttest shooting performance, with pretest shooting performance serving as the covariate. There was a significant experimental group effect, F(4, 44) = 7.17, p < .01. The magnitude of the effect of self-regulation training on shooting performance was assessed using eta-squared (Clarke-Carter, 2003). The calculated effect size, [[eta].sup.2] = .34, is considered large (Cohen, 1988). A trend analysis was also conducted between the number of self-regulatory phases students were taught and their shooting performance, with the groups ordered as follows: no-practice control group, practice-only control group, one-phase training, two-phase training, and three-phase training. A significant linear trend was found, F(1, 44) = 10.06, p< .01, indicating that increasing ordinal phase training led to higher levels of free-throw shooting performance. In addition, a priori contrasts were conducted using t tests to assess specific pair-wise group differences. The results showed that the three-phase group (M = 2.92, SE = 0.14) differed significantly from the one-phase group (M = 2.46, SE = 0.14), the practice-only control group (M= 2.36, SE = 0.14), and the no-practice control (M= 1.94, SE =0.14), p < .05, but not from the two-phase group (M = 2.87, SE= 0.14). The two-phase group also obtained significantly higher shooting scores than the one-phase group (p < .05, one-tailed) and both control groups (p < .01). It should also be noted that the one-phase training group obtained a significantly higher adjusted shooting performance score than the no-practice control group but did not differ from the practice-only control group. Thus, greater self-regulatory phase training led to a significant linear increase in shooting performance, but when examining differences among the ordered experimental groups, only the increase between one- and two-phase training attained statistical significance.
A single factor ANCOVA model was also used to assess group differences in shooting adaptation, with pretest shooting performance serving as the covariate. The no-practice control group was not used in the analysis, because they did not participate in the 12-min practice session. There was a significant experimental group effect, F(3, 35) = 3.57, p < .05. Eta-squared was used as an estimate of the effect size of self-regulation training on shooting adaptation. The magnitude of this relationship, 112 = .22, is considered large (Cohen, 1988). A trend analysis was conducted between the number of self-regulatory training phases and the players' practice shooting performance, with the four experimental groups ordered as follows: practice-only control group, one-phase training, two-phase training, and three-phase training. A significant linear trend was found, F(1, 44) = 4.81, p < .05 between the students' free throw shooting adaptation and the number of self-regulatory phases in which they were trained. In addition, a priori contrasts, which assessed specific pair-wise group differences, revealed a similar pattern of group differences for shooting adaptation as was found for shooting performance. More specifically, the three-phase group (M= 65%, SE= 7.13) and the two-phase group (M= 66%, SE= 7.14) did not differ significantly from each other but obtained higher scores than the one-phase group (M= 43%, SE= 7.31; p< .05) and practice-only control group (M= 40%, SE= 7.03; p< .01). The shooting adaptation outcomes were converted to percentages to adjust for potential differences in frequency of practice shots the various experimental groups took. There was evidence that self-regulatory training affected the frequency of practice shots, F(3, 36) = 58.82, p<.01. Post hoc analyses revealed the three-phase group shot significantly fewer shots than the two phase group (p< .05), which, in turn, shot significantly fewer shots than both the one-phase and practice control groups (p < .01). The one-phase and practice-only control groups did not differ significantly in their number of practice shots.
Group Differences in Self-Reflection Processes
Self-Evaluation. We examined group differences across self-evaluation, attributions, and adaptive inferences. The self-evaluation criteria participants used to judge their performance were classified into one of six categories: performance of others, percentage of shots made, use of the correct method or strategy, improvement during practice, don’t know, and other. To eliminate low frequency categories and use chi-square statistics, the six categories were collapsed into two superordinate categories: process and outcome. The process category included two responses (i.e., use of the correct method/strategy and improvement during practice), while the outcome category consisted of performance of others and percentage of shots made. The don’t know and other categories were removed prior to statistical analysis, because they did not fit into the process and outcome classifications. Chi-square analyses revealed a significant difference among the experimental groups, [chi square] (4) = 10.48, p < .05. Cramer's V was used as an estimate of an effect size of this relationship (Clarke-Carter, 2003). The obtained effect size, V= .47, is considered moderate to large (Cohen, 1988). Partitioning the chi-square revealed the three phase training group used process self-evaluative criteria significantly more frequently than all other groups. No other group differences reached statistical significance.
Causal Attributions. The participants’ attributions following two consecutive missed shots were classified into one of 10 categories: specific technique, general technique, confidence/ability, focus/concentration, effort, practice, rhythm, distraction, don’t know, and other. Table 2 presents the frequencies of the attributions across experimental and control groups. These 10 categories were also collapsed into three superordinate attribution categories to facilitate chi-square statistical procedures: specific technique, general mototic, and general cognitive. The general motoric classification consisted of the general technique, effort, practice, and rhythm categories. The general cognitive classification consisted of distractions, confidence/ability, and focus categories. The don’t know and other categories were removed prior to statistical analysis, because they did not fit into any of the three superordinate categories. These tests revealed a significant relationship between training groups and type of attribution, [chi square] (8) = 26.73, p < .01. Using Cramer's V as an estimate of the effect size between training and type of attribution, there was moderate effect, V= .55. Partitioning the chi-square was conducted to assess differences between the general motoric and general cognitive categories (Rindskopf, 1990). Given that no significant differences emerged, the general motoric and general cognitive categories were collapsed into one category–general cognitive/mototic–before analyzing differences among the self-regulation groups. Collapsing these categories into one superordinate category is consistent with prior research (Cleary & Zimmerman, 2001).
Additional partitioning of the chi-square revealed no attribution differences between the three- and two-phase groups (i.e., training in self-recording) and no differences between the one-phase, practice-only control, and no-practice control groups (i.e., no training in self-recording). Again, the data were collapsed to form two groups: self-recording and no-self-recording. Chi-square analysis revealed a significant difference in attributions between the combined self-recording group and the no self-recording group, (1) = 21.68, p < .01. Using the phi-coefficient as an estimate of the effect size, a large effect size was obtained, [psi] = .69. Individuals who were asked to self-record specific form processes were significantly more likely to attribute their missed free-throw attempts to specific techniques than those who did not self-record.
Adaptive Inferences. The participants’ adaptive inferences following two consecutive misses were classified into one of nine categories: specific technique, general technique, effort, focus/concentration, practice, rhythm, distractions, don’t know, and other. The frequencies of these strategies are presented in Table B. Again, these nine categories were also collapsed into three superordinate attribution categories to facilitate chi-square statistical procedures: specific technique, general motoric, and general cognitive. The general motoric classification consisted of the general technique, effort, practice, and rhythm categories. The general cognitive classification consisted of distractions and focus categories. The don’t know and other categories were removed prior to statistical analysis, because they could not be meaningfully placed into any of the three superordinate categories. Chi-square analyses revealed a significant relationship between experimental group and type of adaptive inferences, [chi square] (8) = 15.14, p=.05. The effect size for this relationship, Cramer’s V, was large (i.e., V= .40). The overall chi-square was partitioned to assess differences between the general motoric and general cognitive categories, and no significant differences emerged. Given that no significant differences emerged, the general motoric and general cognitive categories were collapsed into one category–general cognitive/motoric–before analyzing differences among the self-regulation groups.
Partitioning the latter chi-square to examine training group differences further revealed a similar profile of group differences found in the attribution analysis: No significant differences in adaptive inferences were found between the three- and two-phase groups as well as between the one-phase, practice-only control, and no-practice control groups. As a result, the data were combined to form two groups: self-recording (i.e., three- and two-phase groups) and no self-recording (i.e., one-phase and both control groups). The results showed a significant difference between the self-recording group and no self-recording group, [chi square] (1) = 10.61, p < .01. Consistent with prior procedures, a phi-coefficient was calculated as an estimate of the effect size for the effect of self-recording on adaptive inference. The results indicated an effect approaching large, [psi] = .48 (Cohen, 1988). Individuals who were taught to self-record their execution of specific form processes made specific technique adjustments more frequently than those who did not self-record their execution of their shooting technique.
Partial correlations were calculated to assess the relationship between attributions and adaptive inferences with shooting performance variables (i.e., shooting performance, shooting adaptation) while controlling for pretest shooting performance. There was a significant positive correlation between attributions and both shooting performance, r = .51, p < .01, and shooting adaptation, r = .48, p < .01. A similar pattern of results emerged for the adaptive inferences and posttest shooting performance, r= .36, p < .01, and shooting adaptation, r = .43, p <.01. Thus, individuals who attributed their missed free throw attempts to specific techniques and made strategic adaptive inferences, shot their free throws more accurately and improved their poor practice shots (i.e., 1 or 2 scores) more frequently than those who attributed their misses to other factors.
Phi coefficients were calculated between attributions and both adaptive inferences following missed free throws and self-evaluation. There was a significant positive correlation between attributions and both adaptive inferences, r= .80, p < .01, and self-evaluations, r = .35, p < .05. Thus, individuals who attributed their outcomes to a specific technique were more likely to make specific technique adjustments on subsequent shot attempts and process-oriented self-evaluations. It should be emphasized that, because the attribution questions preceded the follow-up strategy question, the correlation coefficient (i.e., r= .80) can be interpreted as attribution predicting strategy use.
In the present study, we examined the additive effects of goal setting, self-recording, and strategic self-reflection training on novice basketball players’ shooting performance and self-reflection phase processes. A microanalytic design was used to assess changes in specific motivational and self-regulatory processes during the participant’s initial cycle of learning to shoot free throws.
Training Group Differences in Shooting Performance and Adaptation
It was hypothesized that training in one, two, and three phases of self-regulation would have a linear influence on shooting performance and adaptive adjustments. The results supported this hypothesis, as there was a significant linear trend for both shooting performance and shooting adaptation. Pair-wise comparisons of the means across both shooting dependent measures revealed that, although the three- and the two-phase groups showed similar shooting performance outcomes, they significantly outperformed all other groups. Thus, individuals who set process goals and self-recorded their shooting techniques during practice, displayed better shooting accuracy and skill at recovering from poor shots than those who only set process goals (i.e., one-phase training group) or did not receive any self-regulation training (i.e., the two control groups). To elaborate on the group differences for the shooting adaptation measure, the three- and two-phase groups improved on their poor shots 65% and 66% of the time, respectively, while the one-phase and practice-only control groups improved only 44% and 40% of the time, respectively. Given that both multiple-phase training groups had access to self-monitored information about their shooting form, it is possible their increased awareness of their faulty shooting techniques enabled them to improve their poor shots by making strategic adjustments.
The differences in shooting performance are even more impressive when considering that the three-phase group (M= 21, SD = 3.2) and the two-phase group (M= 30, SD = 7.6) took significantly fewer practice shots than both the one-phase (M= 51, SD = 6.9) and practice-only control groups (M = 56, SD = 8.7). These groups took fewer shots, because they had to self-record their shooting techniques at various points during the 12-min practice session. Thus, in terms of the effectiveness of training on shooting accuracy, quality (i.e., defined as systematically engaging in self-regulatory activities) was more important than mere quantity (i.e., number of shots taken). In other words, self-regulatory practice, characterized by proactively setting strategic goals and self-recording one’s use of these strategies, may be more important than shooting large quantities of shots without systematically engaging in the self-regulatory processes. This finding further supports the premise that athletes can efficiently learn and refine their motor skills by becoming more mindful and aware of the specific errors they make (Kitsantas & Zimmerman, 2002; Zimmerman & Kitsantas, 1996).
Training Group Differences in Self-Reflection Processes
Self-Evaluation. A key aspect of this study was to examine the effects of self-regulation training on the participants’ self-reflective phase self-judgments (i.e., attributions and self-evaluations) and self-reactions (i.e., adaptive inferences) to missed free throws. Assessment of these self-regulation processes is beneficial, because it conveys how individuals think about their failures as well as their ability to improve future performances. In terms of self-evaluation, the three-phase group was more process-oriented than all other groups. That is, they evaluated their shooting performance based on self-processes (e.g., personal improvement, use of correct strategy), while the other groups focused primarily on outcomes (i.e., the number of successful shots). Of particular interest is the comparison in self-evaluative criteria between the three- and two-phase groups. Sixty percent the three-phase group used shooting form or self-improvement criteria, while only 10% of the two-phase group focused on such processes. Conversely, 90% of the two-phase group relied on outcome-based criteria (e.g., percentage of shots made), while only 30% of the three-phase group focused on that criteria. Focusing on self or process criterion to evaluate performance has performance and motivational advantages (Ames, 1992; Pintrich, 2000). Social cognitive researchers have shown that novice athletes who are taught to focus on the form or process of an activity rather than on outcomes, particularly when first learning a motoric skill, will have higher levels of self-efficacy, intrinsic interest, and performance (Kitsantas & Zimmerman, 1998). Other researchers have also suggested that focusing on mastery of skill or personal improvement is important because of its relation to a variety of motivational and achievement variables in sports (Fox, Goudas, Biddle, Duda, & Armstrong, 1994; Williams & Gill, 1995).
Still, this result must be qualified, because the self-evaluation measure used in this study was a forced choice item, allowing participants to report only one self-evaluative criterion. In more authentic or real-life situations, it is possible individuals will rely on multiple criteria when making self-judgments about their performance satisfaction level. Future research may want to further examine self-evaluation criteria used by novice athletes by asking more open-ended, microanalytic questions.
Causal Attributions and Adaptive Inferences. Although causal attributions and adaptive inferences reflect different self-reflection phase subprocesses (i.e., self-judgment and self-reaction processes, respectively), they will be discussed together because of their strong relationship as well as the close correspondence of the measures used in the study. In general, a significantly greater number of multiphase training group members (i.e., two and three phases) than the one-phase and control group members focused on specific shooting techniques or strategies following missed free throws. Thus, multiphase group members indicated their missed shots were due to faulty technique, such as “not keeping my elbow in” and their need to adjust poor shooting form processes (e.g., “touch my elbow to my side as I shoot”) to make subsequent shots. In contrast, participants from all other groups typically attributed their misses to general, nontechnique factors, such as lack of concentration and ability. Thus, training individuals in only forethought phase processes (i.e., goal setting) may not be sufficient to impact their self-reflection processes during practice.
Making strategic attributions and adaptive inferences are important, because they convey to the learner that he or she can improve future performances through adjusting faulty strategies, thereby cultivating the belief that future successes are under their control (Cleary & Zimmerman, 2001; Clifford, 1986). They are also important became of their association with both shooting performance and shooting adaptation. Participants who made shooting technique attributions and adaptive inferences were more likely to display high shooting performance than those who did not identify specific techniques as the cause of their missed shots. More importantly, self-reflecting on performance processes was positively related to the participants’ shooting adaptation during the practice session. Thus, the individuals’ ability to improve on poor shots was related to attributing failure to specific techniques and then adjusting these techniques during subsequent shot attempts. Focusing on processes rather than outcomes is important, became it helps athletes be more mindful of how they do something rather than simply their attained success (Cleary & Zimmerman, 2001; Zimmerman & Kitsantas, 1997).
Analysis of Multiphase Self-Regulation Training
Although many of the hypotheses put forth in this study were confirmed, two unexpected findings were that the two- and three-phase groups did not differ in terms of their attributions and adaptive inferences following missed free throws as well as their shooting performance. That is, both groups reflected on their shooting performances by focusing on faulty shooting techniques and made comparable adjustments following poor shots during the practice session. They also attained similar levels of shooting performance scores. In essence, these results show that the three-phase training (i.e., goal setting, self-recording, and self-reflection) did not have an additive effect on shooting performance and self-reflection (i.e., except for the self-evaluation measure) over the two-phase only training (i.e., goal setting and self-recording). Still, there are a couple of important points to consider when examining these unexpected findings.
The first issue, involving the types of attributions and adaptive inferences reported by both groups, can be addressed from a theoretical perspective. Zimmerman’s model of self-regulation assumes cyclical interdependence among the three phases (Zimmerman, 2000). Thus, forethought processes will influence performance control processes, which will, in turn, impact self-reflection phase processes. Performance control phase processes, such as self-recording, impact the self-reflection phase, because they enable the learner to gather information about goal progress as well as the success of his or her strategic plan. Given that the two-phase group gathered information about their shooting techniques from self-recording procedures and that 70% made strategic attributions and adaptive inferences, it is possible they spontaneously used the self-recorded information to reflect in a strategic manner following their free-throw attempts. Along the same lines, individuals who did not self-record their use of shooting strategies (i.e., both control groups and the one-phase group) rarely made such strategic attributions and adaptive inferences. It should also be noted that Zimmerman’s model also predicts that self-judgments (e.g., attributions) will influence self-reactions (e.g., adaptive inferences). Consistent with prior research (Cleary & Zimmerman, 2001), the participants’ attributions following failure highly predicted the type of adaptive inferences they made (i.e., r = .80). Became the two- and three-phase groups appeared to use their self-recorded information about their shooting technique to develop technique-oriented attributions (e.g., follow through was not straight) and given that attributions strongly affected adaptive inferences, it seems logical that both groups would also make technique-oriented adaptive inferences (e.g., extend hand straight toward the front of the rim).
The similarity in types of attributions and adaptive inferences given by the two- and three-phase groups may also help explain, in part, the comparable levels of shooting performance observed between these groups. Making strategy attributions and adaptive inferences were significantly correlated with both shooting performance and shooting adaptation. Thus, individuals who strategically reflected on their shooting process during the 12-min practice session were more likely to have greater success at making baskets. This is consistent with prior research (Cleary & Zimmerman, 2001) and makes intuitive sense. That is, if individuals who are learning a motoric skill monitor and adjust the essential techniques associated with that skill (i.e., two-and three-phase groups), it seems reasonable to expect them to outperform individuals who focus on nonessential technique or nonshooting form processes (i.e., one-phase and control groups).
Another important issue to consider in analyzing the shooting performance of the two- and three-phase groups is the training session used in this study. The practice session was brief and simply represented an individual’s first cycle of learning a motoric skill. When called on to engage in multiple or extended practice sessions, often associated with higher levels of fatigue and boredom as well as varying levels of performance, it is expected that individuals with the most adaptive motivational profile will exhibit higher levels of effort, persistence, and diligence. Thus, given that the three-phase group displayed the most adaptive motivational profile in the current study (i.e., adaptive attributions and adaptive inferences as well as process self-evaluation criteria), it is possible that during more intensive training sessions, participants may have been able to outperform the two-phase training group due to enhanced persistence or effort. Thus, an interesting area for future research involves evaluating performance differences between the three- and two-phase groups when the participants are required to engage in extended or multiple practice sessions.
In general, multiphase training in self-regulation processes during a single practice session had a significant impact on novice free-throw shooters’ shooting performance as well as their self-evaluation processes. Self-recording was a key training process, as it appeared to enhance the participants’ awareness of their faulty shooting techniques, further prompting them to make strategic adjustments during future performance attempts. It should also be noted that training in forethought and performance control phase processes may be sufficient for establishing initial performance gains when learning a motoric skill. However, training individuals in the complete self-regulatory cycle resulted in the most adaptive motivational profile, which may have important implications for individuals who engage in practice episodes requiring a higher level of diligence and persistence.
Please address all correspondence concerning this article to Timothy J. Cleary, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, P.O. Box 413 Milwaukee, WI 53201.
Submitted: June 15, 2005
Accepted: August 15, 2005
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Timothy J. Cleary is with the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Barry J. Zimmerman is with the Department of Educational Psychology at the City University of New York. Tedd Keating is with the Department of Physical Education at Manhattan College.
Table 1. Posttest means for experimental and control groups
Dependent Experimental group
Three Two One Practice No
phase phase phase only practice
performance (a) 2.92 2.87 2.46 2.36 1.94
adaptation (a) 65.43 66.76 43.09 40.42 — (b)
shots 21 30 51 56 O (b)
(a) Adjusted group means and percentages after controlling for
pretest shooting performance.
(b) The no-practice control group did not engage in the 12-min
Table 2. Frequency of attributions for experimental and control
groups after two consecutive misses
Type of Experimental group
Three Two One Practice No
phase phase phase only practice
Specific technique 10 7 1 3 1
General technique 0 0 1 0 0
Confidence/ability 0 1 1 2 1
Focus 0 0 4 0 3
Effort 0 0 2 1 1
Practice 0 0 0 1 0
Rhythm 0 1 0 2 1
Distractions 0 0 0 0 1
Don’t know 0 0 0 1 1
Other 0 1 1 0 1
Table 3. Frequency of adaptive inference strategies for
experimental and control groups after two consecutive misses
Three Two One Practice No
Strategy phase phase phase only practice
Specific technique 8 7 2 3 3
General technique 0 0 1 3 1
Focus 1 2 5 2 2
Effort 0 0 0 1 1
Practice 0 0 0 1 0
Rhythm 0 1 1 0 1
Distractions 1 0 0 0 0
Don’t know 0 0 1 0 1
Other 0 0 0 0 1
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