Alleged elements of waste in learning a motor problem by the "part" method
Journal of Educational Psychology
Whole method procedure demands the continuous repetition of an entire body of material until the desired stage of mastery is attained. Part procedure demands an initial mastery of of definite sections of the material and the final connection of these different sections in proper serial order. These two methods have been employed at length for investigating the learning of logical material (both prose and poetry) and also for nonsensical material. Although the various psychologists of the
... gists of the German, French and English laboratories have scarcely been uniform in their definition and use of the "part" method, nevertheless their results have been very uniform and accepted as conclusive. Consequently, it seems established that the "whole" method of learning is far more advantageous than the "part" method, both for speed of learning, more correct formations of associations, and more permanent retention. But the motor field of learning has not been given the same degree of attention showered upon rote and logical materials. This paper directs attention to the motor field. Learning the maze is a type of motor problem that affords splendid opportunity for testing and comparing the whole and part methods. It is a problem whose general nature can be easily mastered, but which at the same time requires many trials and high energy expenditure for the setting-up of the many associations demanded. The cul de sacs, retracing opportunities, etc., offer many chances for error, all of which can be readily noticed and recorded by the experimenter. Also, there is no question as to when the problem is completely mastered by the various subjects, a nicety scarcely possible in the oral repetition of a long body of nonsensical material. Finally, the maze problem better than any other gives an opportunity for comparing the learning behavior of humans and lower animals when learning conditions are made identical.