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Decision-making of officials in aesthetic sports and more specifically in Women’s Artistic Gymnastics (WAG) has received some attention within the sport psychology literature. However, research conducted has mainly utilised post-competition scores and has adapted retrospective methods of data collection to investigate judges’ thoughts and decision-making during judging. Think Aloud (TA) method (Eccles & Arsal, 2017) proposed by Ericsson and Simon (1993) is a tool to collect concurrent data of cognitive processes, and therefore could be an alternative method to collect judge decision concurrently. As a result, this thesis aimed to investigate the robustness of a novel TA method in collecting thought processes of WAG judges and to explore the decision-making differences between expert and novice judges. There were three studies included in this thesis. Study One was conducted in Malaysia 2016 utilising the Code of Points (COP) 2012-2016, whereas Study Two and Study Three were conducted simultaneously in the United Kingdom from 2017-2018 utilising the updated COP 2017-2020. Study One Study One aimed to explore the decision-making underpinning judging processes by using both concurrent and immediate retrospective methods. This examined the utilisation of TA method as a training tool to develop Malaysia based WAG judge education. Ten qualified national judges were required to verbalise their thought processes in applying execution deductions and artistry deductions by using Level 2 TA when judging a fix-sequenced video clip consists of ten routines on a singular apparatus, i.e. Balance Beam. Immediate follow-up interviews were conducted to investigate the judge’s perceptions of using TA method whilst judging. Data collected in the TA sessions and follow-up interviews underwent thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2014). During the judging process, participants verbally reported most frequently on lack of balance, bending of arms and knees, pointing of feet, confidence, rhythm and tempo, and personal style as focal points on deductions. Overall TA method was reported as an appropriate tool for use within judge education to enable deduction scores to be applied objectively. However, some participants reported performance of the primary task on judging was adversely affected by verbal overshadowing. This study informed Study Two and Study Three to investigate the decision-making differences between expert and novice judges in addition to the viability of TA method extending to all four WAG apparatus. Study Two The aim of this study was to examine decision-making differences between ten expert (international and national judge) and eight novice (regional and club judges) WAG judges based in the United Kingdom in evaluating Balance Beam (BB), Floor Exercise (FX), Uneven Bars (UB), and Vault (VT) routines using fixed-sequenced competition video clips. Participants using Level 2 TA method to verbalise all execution deductions concurrently where possible and artistry deductions by immediate retrospective whilst judging video-based routines that resembled actual competition with execution scores calculated at the end of each routine. Execution scores and verbalised deduction counts were tabulated into IBM® SPSS Statistics 24 and Microsoft Excel® for data analyses. Results showed that expert judges applied more deductions across all apparatus when compared to novice judges (p < .05). Further, verbalisation on deduction for all three types of deductions, that of general execution faults, specific apparatus deductions, and artistry deductions, were higher in counts by expert judges compared to novice judges (p < .05). These identified there were expert-novice differences in judging execution scores and applying deductions across all four apparatus in WAG as hypothesised. The highest count for deductions verbalised was recorded on the BB, followed by FX, UB, and least on VT revealing there were different deduction applications according to respective apparatus characteristics. Based on these findings, it was suggested to further explore judges’ perceptions of using TA method when judging to inform the future use of TA for both research and education purposes. Study Three This study conducted simultaneously with Study Two, aimed to investigate the perceptions of expert-novice WAG judges in using a novel TA method whilst judging video-based competition routines. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the same participants from Study Two to collect their perceptions of using TA method to verbalise execution deductions whilst judging video-based routines across all four WAG apparatus concurrently and immediate retrospectively using Level 2 TA to inform viability of TA method into future judge education development. Interview data underwent inductive and deductive thematic analyses. Five themes were generated, which were feelings of using TA method whilst judging WAG routines, perceptions of TA method viability within WAG judging, and TA method challenges within WAG judging, TA deductions across different WAG apparatus, and further consideration for learning resources adapting TA method. Both expert and novice judges reported initial apprehensions to verbalise deductions whilst judging, however, they reported become more comfortable and more used to the TA method across the sessions demonstrating skill acquisition. Furthermore, both expert and novice judges reported an increased awareness in applying more accurate execution deductions concerning of schemata and prior performance by previous gymnasts when using TA method without disrupting the natural thought process of judging in slower-pace apparatus. In addition, participants suggested TA as a viable method to collect in-event thought processes of WAG judges in slower-paced apparatus of that BB, FX, and UB concurrently. Fast-paced apparatus that of VT required the use of immediate retrospectively recall, despite concerning verbal overshadowing of TA method and existing multitask judging. Participants further suggested that a progressive judge education module adapting TA method beginning with generic training, into single skill/element evaluation, then series of gymnastics skills and dance elements towards full routines to be included in future judge education. Therefore, TA method adapted in judge education module with utility to extend beyond current course delivery and ‘paper and pen’ assessment as well as providing a learning source by which to refresh and retrain judges after accreditation examinations. The findings of these empirical studies suggest that TA method is viable to collect in-event data of cognitive processes among WAG judges when judging video-based routines. Subsequently, findings suggest that there are decision-making differences between expert and novice WAG judges related to experience and training acquired according to the level of judge accreditation. Expert judges applied significantly more execution deductions compared to novice judges across all four apparatus in WAG, i.e. BB, FX, VT, and UB. Therefore, TA method been suggested viable to scale-up novice judges in understanding their thought processes to make accurate decisions when evaluating gymnastics skills and dance elements from a practical perspective therefore suggested for TA method adaption into a pilot judge education module.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Think Aloud; TA; decision-making; WAG; Gymnastics; judging; education; expert-novice
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV561 Sports
Divisions: Sport & Exercise Sciences
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2020 10:12
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2022 13:54
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00012162
Supervisors: Knowles, Z, Whitehead, A and Causer, J
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/12162
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