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Research Article  |   July 1997
The Effect of Added-Purpose and Meaningful Occupation on Motor Learning
Author Affiliations
  • Janice M. Ferguson, MS, OT(C), is Assistant Professor, School of Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Health Professions, Dalhousie University, Forrest Building, Room 215, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 3J5, Canada
  • Catherine A. Trombly, ScD, OTR/L, FAOTA, is Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, Sargent College of Allied Health Professions, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts
Article Information
Complementary/Alternative Approaches / Research
Research Article   |   July 1997
The Effect of Added-Purpose and Meaningful Occupation on Motor Learning
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July/August 1997, Vol. 51, 508-515. doi:10.5014/ajot.51.7.508
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July/August 1997, Vol. 51, 508-515. doi:10.5014/ajot.51.7.508
Abstract

Objective. Numerous studies in the occupational therapy literature have investigated the effects of added-purpose (multidimensional, goal-oriented) occupation on performance. Motor learning research has demonstrated that factors that enhance performance measures do not necessarily enhance motor learning. This study examined the effects of both added-purpose and meaningful occupation on motor learning.

Method. Twenty subjects (university students) were randomly assigned to either an added-purpose or rote exercise condition. After a skill acquisition phase, retention and transfer scores were obtained, and subjects were asked to rate the meaningfulness of the occupation on a visual analog scale.

Results. A two-way analysis of variance indicated that only the added-purpose occupation resulted in significantly greater motor learning. Additionally, the added-purpose scores were not influenced by the level of meaning assigned to the occupation.

Conclusion. This study is the first to demonstrate how added-purpose can enhance a more permanent aspect of performance: motor learning. Further research is necessary to determine whether occupations that both are meaningful and have added-purpose are the most effective in enhancing motor learning.