Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning

pp 15-17

Abilities and Learning: Physical Abilities

  • Benjamin K. BartonAffiliated withFaculty of Economics and Behavioral Sciences, Department of Education, University of FreiburgDepartment of Psychology & Communication Studies, University of Idaho Email author 
  • , Thomas A. UlrichAffiliated withFaculty of Economics and Behavioral Sciences, Department of Education, University of FreiburgDepartment of Psychology & Communication Studies, University of Idaho

Synonyms

Fine motor skills; Gross motors; Motor skills; Reflexes

Definition

Capacity to engage in reflexive or voluntary goal-directed physical behavior.

Physical abilities serve an integral role for learning during early childhood. The type of learning the child engages in is directly related to the physical abilities that the child is able to draw upon while interacting with the world. With increased physical abilities, more complex learning occurs.

Theoretical Background

During early childhood, children learn how to interact with the environment through physical experiences. This process is largely constrained by developing physical abilities that the child possesses during the different stages of development. As children gain physical abilities the variety and complexity of interactions increases, which results in more complex forms of learning.

According to Piaget’s cognitive-development theory, as children age, they build increasing complex scheme ...

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