Part and whole practice for a tracking task: effects of task variables and amount of practice.
ABSTRACT Whole and part methods were compared to test Naylor's hypothesis that, in a task of high organization, whole methods should become more efficient with increased complexity. Task complexity was varied by having two levels of display-control relationship. The part versus whole comparisons were made in two conditions, one requiring early changeover, the other later changeover to whole task practice. In the early changeover condition no significant differences were found between part and whole methods at either level of complexity. With later changeover, on the other hand, pure part training was inferior to whole training in the high complexity task. This result was present only in the first block of whole practice. No differences were found with the low complexity task. The experiment offers limited support for Naylor's hypothesis. The predicted superiority of the whole method in the high complexity task was only short lived and disappeared with further practice. Furthermore, this prediction was upheld only with later changeover to whole task performance.