DISCOVERY VS. RULE-DIRECTED LEARNING IN SCUBA DIVING EDUCATION

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INTRODUCTION: Time efficiency is a crucial factor when teaching SCUBA diving underwater, where limited access, limited air supply, and cold reduce the amount of practice time. Still, safety skills must be learned with sufficient quality and still be mastered even after long breaks. This is especially true for beginners who learn to dive in their home country but apply their skills only later on vacation. Based on prior research, we suspected rule-directed learning (RL) to facilitate explicit knowledge and working memory, resulting in good initial results but less stability over time. Discovery learning (DL), on the other hand, tends to be more robust to stress and fatigue and shows greater stability over time. We hypothesized to observe a similar pattern when teaching the deployment of a surface marker buoy (SMB) as a safety skill to diving beginners. We expected the DL group to produce the skill with a higher quality in a retention test compared to RL. METHODS: 28 beginners with pool experience (age: 22.5 ± 2.6; 6 females, 22 males) were randomly assigned to the RL- (N=14) or DL- group (N=14) and familiarized with the concept and necessity of deploying an SMB in recreational diving. In the PRE-test, both groups received the same criteria for successful deployment of an SMB underwater (i.e., stable positioning and trim, time, and safety). Only the RL-group watched an additional video with visual presentation and explicit instructions about how to perform the skill successfully. After 10 min of underwater familiarization (at 4 m depth, in a 5 m pool) and six practice trials, three evaluation trials were performed. The latter were video-recorded and independently evaluated by three licensed SCUBA dive instructors on the basis of various sub-criteria to water position/trim, time, and safety. A retention test was performed after 45 (± 5) days without any further practice or information. RESULTS: The PRE-test showed no significant differences between groups (all P>0.05). DL scored overall higher in water positioning / trim (P=0.566; d=0.793) and safety (P=0.869; d=0.822), while scores for time were about equal (P=0.697; d=23.341) with 75.5s (±20) for DL and 79.0s (± 26.1) for RL. After the test, DL reported to have focused more on criteria relevant for safety than RL and felt more satisfied with their performance (P=0.028; d=0.885). Analysis of retention-test data is still pending but will be available for presentation at ECSS 2021. CONCLUSION: The two educational concepts did not evoke any differences in the quality of performing the safety skills after the initial acquisition. We assume that the special and challenging underwater environment might claim cognitive resources to the detriment of performing such skills. In this case, and especially for inexperienced beginners, the suspected higher amount of implicit knowledge gained in the DL-group might benefit a reproduction of the skill in the retention test.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBook of Abstracts : 26th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science, 8th-10th September 2021
EditorsF. Dela, J. W. Helge, E. Müller, E. Tsolakidis
Number of pages2
Place of PublicationKöln
PublisherECSS
Publication date09.09.2021
Pages173-174
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-9818414-4-2
Publication statusPublished - 09.09.2021
EventAnnual Congress of the European College of Sport Science: ECSS Virtual Congress - Online
Duration: 08.09.202110.09.2021
Conference number: 26
https://sport-science.org/index.php/congress/ecss-2021

ID: 6162449

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