Instructional design/Psychomotor behaviors/Introduction

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Topic:Instructional Design > Psychomotor behaviors > Introduction to the Psychomotor Behaviors

Introduction[edit | edit source]

This lesson will provide an overview of psychomotor behaviors and begin to look at how to develop training for learning psychomotor behaviors. This lesson will explore Bloom's Taxonomy, the psychomotor domain, and the three instructional levels; imitation, practice, and habit.

Lesson Importance[edit | edit source]

This lesson is important because it explains what psychomotor behaviors are and what they are not. It helps to prepare teachers, instructions, and instructional designers how to determine which domain matches their course content. Lastly, this lesson is important because it demonstrates how to use the use the psychomotor domain to develop training for psychomotor behaviors.

Learning Objectives for this Lesson[edit | edit source]

At the end of this lesson:

  • Learners will be able to identify the five stages of Dave's Psychomotor Domain
  • Learners will be able to differentiate between examples and non-examples of psychomotor behaviors
  • Learners will be able to identify three levels in the instructional process

Upcoming Learner Activity[edit | edit source]

To ensure the learner has a good grasp on the concept of psychomotor behaviors and the psychomotor domain, there is a Learning Activity associated with this lesson.

Get ready to learn about psychomotor behaviors!

Bloom's Taxonomy[edit | edit source]

Dr. Benjamin S. Bloom initiated “Bloom’s Taxonomy of learning in 1956 as a design and evaluation toolkit for academic education. Today it is applicable to all types of learning.

There are three domains in Bloom’s Taxonomy:

  • Cognitive Domain (knowledge)
  • Affective Domain (attitude)
  • Psychomotor Domain (skills)

Bloom believes that all three domains are important, however, this lesson will concentrate only on the Psychomotor Domain.

What is a Domain?[edit | edit source]

A domain simply means category. What is the Psychomotor Domain? The Psychomotor Domain is skill based and refers to the learning of skills. Physical skills are the ability to move, act, or manually manipulate the body to perform a physical movement. What is taxonomy? Taxonomy is a structure, a plan, or a checklist to assist in planning training to cover each development stage of the learner’s growth. It is important that each stage is mastered before moving on to the next stage.

What is a psychomotor behavior?[edit | edit source]

If you are trying to figure out if your behavior is cognitive, affective, or psychomotor, consider the following factors.

  • Speed may be a factor in psychomotor skills. Equipment and/or tools may be needed to perform the psychomotor skills.
  • Testing requires more than just a paper-based assessment and a pencil.
  • Psychomotor skills need to be performed and observed to determine mastery of the skill.

Examples and Non-examples[edit | edit source]


  • How to ride a bike
  • Wrapping a present
  • Changing a diaper


  • Types of bikes
  • Types of wrapping paper
  • Why babies wet their diapers

Psychomotor Domains[edit | edit source]

Besides Bloom, there are several other noted learning theorists that explain this domain. The four primary domains have been developed by RH Dave (1967), EJ Simpson (1972), AJ Harrow (1972), and A Romiszowski. Dave’s Psychomotor Domain is the simplest domain and easy to apply in a corporate environment. The Psychomotor Domains defined by Harrow and Simpson are better suited for certain adult training and for teaching young adults and children.

The table below compares each of the Psychomotor Domains.

Dave Simpson Harrow Romiszowski
none Perception (awareness) Reflex Movement Acquiring Knowledge
Imitation (copy) Set Basic Fundamental Movements Executing Actions
Manipulation Guided Response Perceptual Abilities Transfer
Develop Precision Mechanism Physical Abilities Automatization
Articulation Complex Overt Response Skilled Movements Generalization
Naturalization Adaptation Non-discursive none
none Origination none none

Dave’s Psychomotor Domain[edit | edit source]

In order to better understand the Psychomotor Domain, we will examine the psychomotor taxonomy adaptation developed by R. H. Dave. The following table examines Dave’s Psychomotor Domain by listing psychical behavior descriptions for each stage, examples of activities, demonstrations, and evidence of learning, and last, key words or verbs that describe that stage.

Stage Category or Stage Behavior Description Examples of activities, demonstrations, and evidence of learning Action Verbs
1 Imitation Copy action of another Watch teacher or trainer and repeat action, process, or activity Copy, follow, replicate, repeat, adhere, observe, identify, mimic, try, reenact, and imitate
2 Manipulation Reproduce activity from instructions Carry out task from written or verbal instructions Re-create, build, perform, execute, and implement
3 Precision Execute skill reliably, independent of help Perform a task or activity with expertise and to high quality without assistance or instruction; able to demonstrate an activity to other learners Demonstrate, complete, show, perfect, calibrate, control, and practice
4 Articulation Adapt and integrate expertise to satisfy a non-standard objective Relate and combine associated activities to develop methods to meet varying, novel requirements Construct, solve, combine, coordinate, integrate, adapt, develop, formulate, modify, master, improve, and teach
5 Naturalization Automated, unconscious mastery of activity and related skills at strategic level Define aim, approach, and strategy for use of activities to meet strategic need Design, specify, manage, invent, and project-manage

Three Levels in the Instructional Process[edit | edit source]

Regardless of which domain that one chooses to follow, there are three basic levels or steps in the overall instructional process: Imitation, practice, and habit.

1. Imitation: During this level the instructor shares the knowledge content and demonstrates the skill. This level is when the instructor shares the essential information about the skill, such as facts, background information, safety considerations, etc. then the instructor breaks the skills into small steps, demonstrates the skill and allows the learner reenacts or copy the skill.

2. Practice: During this level the student is allowed to practice alone and/or with the instructor to practice the skill over and over, with feedback from the instructor until mastering the basic skill. The student is able to ask questions, receive feedback, and try in a friendly safe environment.

3. Habit: The last level is when the student develops such proficiency that they are able to perform the skill in twice the time or at an expert level. Performance of the skill becomes nature or second nature. When the students reach this level, they are able to create their own versions of the skill and teach others.

Basic knowledge and skills start low and progressively increase to more sophisticated skills, higher level of abilities, and learners develop critical understanding of performance.

The Psychomotor Domain originally related to physical movements, however, today it also relates to communication, such as telephone skills and public speaking, and to computer operations, such as data entry and keyboard skills.

Example[edit | edit source]

Before you begin to design instruction for a psychomotor behavior, review the next example. The following is an example of a lesson applying Dave’s Psychomotor Domain to teach a physical behavior such as the sport of jumping rope.

Learning Task: Concepts of jump rope, advantages of jumping rope, and instructions for rhythmic jumping rope skills

Learning Objectives:

  • Student will demonstrate three basic jump rope skills
  • Student will show rhythmic coordination by participating in jump rope activities
Steps Instructor Student Type of Instruction
  • Impart content knowledge
  • Demonstrate the entire skill without interruptions
  • Demonstrate basic jumping rope skills
  • Provide student opportunity to “imitate”
  • Student listens to instructor
  • Student observes the instructor
  • Student attempts to imitate instructor
  • Explanation
  • Demonstration
  • Guided practice
  • Break skill into step-by-step actions, explain each step

- Start in position - Swing rope - Jump over rope

  • Provide student opportunity to “imitate” each step
  • Provide student opportunity to “imitate” entire skill
  • Student tries specific steps over and over
  • Student tries entire skill
  • Guided practice
  • Feedback
  • Provide student time to practice alone
  • Student practices until able to perform with no mistakes
  • Student practices skill over and over
  • Student speeds up performance
  • Practice alone
  • Provide student time to practice alone
  • Student creates jump rope routine to music
  • Student fine tunes performance
  • Practice alone
  • Practice with music
  • Assess student’s entire performance
  • Student creates his or her own routine to music
  • Student can perform at jumping rope upon demand
  • Student goes from being a novice to a proficient performer to an expert
  • Assessment

Learning Activity[edit | edit source]

Let's see if you were paying attention... Try the following three questions. Click Submit after you answer the questions. Your score will be noted below the Submit button.


1 Which of the following correctly list the five stages of Dave's Psychomotor Domain. Click of the correct response.

Imitation, Manipulation, Precision, Articulation, and Naturalization
Perception, Set, Guided Response, Mechanism, and Complex Overt Response
Reflex Movement, Basic Fundamental Movements, Perceptual Abilities, Physical Abilities, and Skilled Movements

2 Which of the following are examples of psychomotor behaviors? Select all that apply.

Reading a book
Riding a bike

3 Which of the following is not one of the three levels of the instructional process?


How did you do? If you feel good about your knowledge of psychomotor behaviors, go to the next lesson; Psychomotor_Behaviors_in_Practice.

References[edit | edit source]

  • Bloom’s Taxonomy – Learning Domains retrieved from on March 5, 2007
  • Romiszowski, A (1999) The Development of Physical Skills: Instruction in the Psychomotor Domain, Chapter 19, Instructional Design Theories and Models: A New Paradigm of Instructional Theory, Volume II, C. M. Reigeluth, Mahwah, NJ, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
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