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Title: Learning interventions in Olympic Skeleton through the use of physical simulation
Author: Sawade, Caleb A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5370 0967
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2014
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The extreme sport of Skeleton faces driver-training constraints. GB Skeleton athletes are limited to 120 minutes of track time per year. This PhD focuses on the learning effects from virtual environment (VE) training. It was hypothesised that learning and skill-acquisition within the sport of Skeleton could be accelerated through the use of physical simulation and VE training. This has been investigated by linking various perceptual learning paradigms to the design of VE training. A review of previous simulator development and learning intervention research found an apparent lack of task specificity in VE design. This led to initial perceptual learning theories that focused on task specific stimuli cueing. Two on-ice track-testing sessions were conducted. They primarily provided the acquisition of on-track sled dynamic measurements and athlete subjective data, which helped formulate hypotheses around which cueing stimuli was important within a VE training scenario. Test results showed: dominance of g-force proprioceptor stimuli, and an inhibited visual stimuli domain. Following these tests an experiment was conducted using a prototype simulator to investigate if proprioceptor stimuli had an effect on athlete sliding performance and in-simulator learning rates. The results from the 5-subject experiment concluded that mechanically-applied proprioceptor stimuli during virtual training showed improvement of in-simulator learning rates and task performance. The findings promoted the development of new VE feature theories. These theories promoted efficient VE design to maximise learning by customising task specific cueing systems. A novel virtual simulator was developed to investigate these theories. The simulator included; a real-time physics engine for athlete interaction, virtual graphics with 180deg field-of-view vision, high (5-80Hz) and low (up to 5Hz) frequency proprioceptor stimulation using vibration and forcefeedback controlled body loading, vestibular system stimulation from whole body roll motion, and virtual audio generation. A motion cueing experiment was conducted, aimed at identifying if the addition of whole-body roll motion led to an increased learning rate. Subject learning rate and performance was evaluated from steer timing error measurements. Subjective feedback was provided which supported the measured results. The experiment showed that motion cueing accelerated the rate of in-simulator learning for task specific events where vestibular stimulation led to faster perceptual information processing. Three verification methods for simulator evaluation were used to investigate the effectiveness of skill transfer from simulated to real-world environment. Subjective and objective measures assessed the effects each VE subsystem had on subjects’ ability to perform the task. The system’s applicability and validity as a perceptual priming tool was demonstrated and shown; from pre and post simulator intervention of athlete improvement comparisons, real-vs-simulated sled dynamics, and subject matter expert opinion. Compelling evidence was presented to suggest that positive transfer of training occurred. It is concluded that a low-cost VE for Olympic Skeleton training did accelerate the rate of learning and increase athlete performance.
Supervisor: Turnock, Stephen Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: T Technology (General)