University of Technology Sydney

92565 Skill Acquisition

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2024 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Health
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level: Undergraduate

Result type: Grade and marks

Requisite(s): 36 credit points of completed study in spk(s): C10300 Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science OR 36 credit points of completed study in spk(s): C10301 Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Management OR 36 credit points of completed study in spk(s): C10302 Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science Bachelor of International Studies OR 36 credit points of completed study in spk(s): C10303 Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Management Bachelor of International Studies OR 36 credit points of completed study in spk(s): C10328 Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation
These requisites may not apply to students in certain courses. See access conditions.


This subject examines the processes of neuromotor control, skill acquisition and retention. Students are taught how to assess motor skill proficiency and design training programs that optimise the quality and speed of skill acquisition. Particular emphasis is placed on motor learning and skill development, such that students understand the processes behind skill acquisition that are relevant to the role of the teacher, coach or sport and exercise scientist.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:
A. Classify and measure the performance of motor skills
B. Analyse the different stages involved in the process of motor learning
C. Apply knowledge from biomechanics, anatomy, physiology and sport psychology in the practice of motor learning
D. Implement common theoretical models that explain the processes of motor learning
E. Employ appropriate test protocols used to assess motor learning
F. Design and discuss a motor learning protocol / environment to maximize motor learning in a sporting, exercise and health context

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the following graduate attributes:

  • Lead, manage and inspire within the fields of sport, exercise and health; (1.0)
  • Competently apply knowledge and skills within the sport, exercise and health professions (3.0)
  • Engage in research and critical thinking to integrate diverse knowledge and develop creative, effective and evidence-based solutions (4.0)
  • Adapt to diverse industry contexts to enable optimal and sustainable sport, exercise and health outcomes (5.0)
  • Demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively and sensitively with diverse populations to enable positive change (6.0)
  • Demonstrate professional cultural competency which contributes to the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians, inclusive of physical, social, emotional and spiritual wellness (7.0)

Teaching and learning strategies

The following teaching and learning strategies will be utilised to achieve student learning outcomes:

  • Before class activities (online)
  • Information activities (online)
  • Application activities (face to face & online)

Before class activities will be provided through Canvas. Students will be encouraged to engage in these activities prior to participating in any tutorial/laboratory sessions. This will aid students in gaining a basic understanding of the week's content before attending. The Before class activities will be reflected upon in the Information and Application activities.

Content will be delivered each week online in a series of recorded presentations. Information activities will be recorded in real time using screen capture software and uploaded to Canvas. Students may access these recordings at any time following the release of the presentations until the completion of the subject.

During laboratory sessions, students will engage with instructors and peers to undertake Application activities and solve workbook questions. Students are strongly encouraged to familiarise themselves with the key learning outcomes that are listed in the laboratory handbook for each practical session and examine online material prior to class to improve their chance for success in this subject.

In addition, students will be able to register their interest in weekly Question and Answer sessions. These sessions will be conducted online and students will have the opportunity to raise questions, explore topics further or seek clarification on assessment details via this forum.

Finally, students will also have the opportunity to undertake a number of online quizzes before the census date for enrolment. Students are strongly encouraged to complete this assessment as they will be provided with in-class, informal feedback on their performance during the following lecture and/or laboratory.

Content (topics)

  • Defining skill acquisition, task classification and differentiating from motor learning
  • Outline the theoretical models that explain skill acquisition
  • Explain the changes in skill acquisition and performance and respective causes such as age, injury and training
  • Appropriate methods to examine skill performance and acquisition
  • Outline individual differences in skill acquisition including ability, capacity and classification
  • Design of appropriate task structures and programs to improve motor learning and skill performance
  • Describe performer and performance changes during progression through the stages of learning
  • Relate skill acquisition to specific fields in Exercise Science.
  • Examine the motor performance of clients in a sport and exercise context


Assessment task 1: Oral examination


The intent of the oral examination is to recall and synthesize information about the theoretical basis of skill acquisition, particularly the Ecological Dynamics approach to skill acquisition and apply these theories to sport, injury rehabilitation and prevention, and every-day activities.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, C and D

This assessment task contributes to the development of graduate attribute(s):

3.0 and 4.0

Groupwork: Group, individually assessed
Weight: 30%

20 minutes per student group (10 min preparation time, 10 min exam time)

Assessment task 2: Skill training project


The intent of the skills training project is to apply skill acquisition concepts such as the manipulation of practice environments and the application of appropriate motor skill assessments in a real-world skill practice setting.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, B, C, D, E and F

This assessment task contributes to the development of graduate attribute(s):

1.0, 3.0, 4.0, 5.0 and 6.0

Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 50%

15 minute video presentation

Assessment task 3: Peer instruction session


The intent of the peer-instruction session is to apply knowledge on the constraints-led approach to skill acquisition to a practice session where peers function as the learners. The emphasis of this assessment is on the application of verbal instruction and optimal demonstration to a motor skill of the student's choice.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, C, D and F

This assessment task contributes to the development of graduate attribute(s):

3.0 and 7.0

Groupwork: Group, group assessed
Weight: 20%

20 minute session

Required texts

Main textbook for this subject:

Davids, K. W., Button, C., & Bennett, S.J. 2008, Dynamics of skill acquisition: A constraints-led approach, Human Kinetics, Champaign, Illinois.

Students are advised to acquire their own copies of these texts. Copies of these texts are available at the UTS library on closed reserve.

Additional readings

All additional readings, other than text books, will be available via links from within Canvas . The required weekly readings for this subject will be advised on Canvas prior to the lectures and tutorials. Please bring the readings to the tutorial class in the week required (electronic version is fine).

NB: It is essential that students complete all required readings. The required readings will be considered assumed knowledge for tutorial classes and the examination.

Recommended texts

Renshaw, I., Davids, K., & Savelsbergh, G. J. (Eds.). (2010). Motor learning in practice: A constraints-led approach. Routledge.


Renshaw, I., Davids, K., & Savelsbergh, G. J. (Eds.). (2010). Motor learning in practice: A constraints-led approach. Routledge.

Other resources

UTS Student Centres
Building 10
Monday to Friday: 9am - 5pm
Tel: 1300 ASK UTS (1300 275 887)

Details for student centres:

For other resources/ information refer to the Faculty of Health website ( and Canvas at:

UTS Library
The Library has a wide range of resources, facilities and services to support you including textbooks, subject readings, old exam papers, academic writing guides, health literature databases, workshops, a gaming room and bookable group study rooms. There is also a team of librarians to help you with all your questions.
W:, Facebook: utslibrary, Twitter: @utslibrary Tel: (02) 9514 3666

Improve your academic and English language skills
Marks for all assessment tasks such as assignments and examinations are given not only for what you write but also for how you write. If you would like the opportunity to improve your academic and English language skills, make an appointment with the HELPS (Higher Education Language & Presentation Support) Service in Student Services.

HELPS (Higher Education Language & Presentation Support)
HELPS provides assistance with English language proficiency and academic language. Students who need to develop their written and/or spoken English should make use of the free services offered by HELPS, including academic language workshops, vacation intensive courses, drop-in consultations, individual appointments and Conversations@UTS ( HELPS staff are also available for drop-in consultations at the UTS Library. Phone (02) 9514 9733

Please see for additional information on other resources provided to students by UTS.

The Accessibility and Financial Assistance Service
The Accessibility Service can support students with disabilities, medical or mental health conditions, including temporary injuries (e.g., broken limbs). The Accessibility Service works with Academic Liaison Officers in each Faculty to provide ‘reasonable adjustments’ such as exam provisions, assistive technology, requests and strategies for managing your studies alongside your health condition. If you’re unsure whether you need assistance, we recommend getting in touch early and we can provide advice on how our service can assist you. Make an appointment with an Accessibility Consultant (AC) on +61 2 9514 1177 or

The Financial Assistance Service can assist you with financial aspects of life at university, including Centrelink information, tax returns and budgeting, interest-free student loans and grants to assist with course-related costs. Check eligibility and apply online and make an appointment on +61 2 9514 1177 or