Does "teamwork make the dream work"? Comparing competitive and cooperative dyad learning environments to independent learning environments in an online timing task


There is evidence that dyad practice (learning motor skills in pairs) is more efficient, if not more effective, for motor skill learning compared to individual practice (learning alone). Even if motor learning outcomes are not always affected by the social setting, there may be psychosocial benefits to practicing in pairs which could improve longer term engagement. The current study examined the performance and psychosocial outcomes of individual practice and two different dyad practice conditions in an online relative-timing task (N=132). Participants who practiced in pairs either competed against each other ("achieve the best personal performance") or cooperated ("achieve the best collective performance"). Timing errors were collected across 40 trials of practice. Psychosocial measures, including positive and negative affect, motivation, and self-efficacy were also collected on the first day. All participants completed a 24hr retention test of the learned sequence. The retention test was performed individually, regardless of the conditions of practice. The results showed no group differences in percentage movement time error during acquisition or retention. The competitive dyad group reported lower motivation to continue performing the task than the cooperative group, and lower self-efficacy than the individual group. Overall, the results suggest that dyad practice did not provide additional learning benefits compared to individual practice, but that the competitive practice environment negatively impacted various psychosocial dimensions without undermining learning.