Errors, rewards, and reinforcement in motor skill learning
This chapter offers an empirical evidence and strong theoretical arguments to support the idea that reinforcement learning model is probably the most important for understanding skill acquisition. Providing positive feedback after relatively good trials can increase a learner’s perceptions of competence, thereby enhancing intrinsic motivation and learning. Perceived competence is especially important for rehabilitation. Since low levels of motivation and engagement are common issues faced by therapists, they may want to implement strategies that make even the smallest improvement rewarding for their patients. In psychology, a prediction error is the difference between an anticipated outcome and the actual outcome. Thus in order to maintain learning, the difficulty of practice should progressively increase in relation to the learner’s skill level. Ultimately, we think it is important that instructors and learners understand that errors should not be considered a threat to practice. On the contrary, they should be embraced and explored as they can lead to better motor skill acquisition and learning.