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In this assignment, I intend to discuss the many different teaching styles that can be adopted by teachers and coaches. Each person has their own individual preference on the way he/she presents information and the style each chooses depends on several variables. Firstly, I will recognise the different stages in the learning process and how a coach should effectively structure his/her practices according to the above variables. There are three phases of learning. In the cognitive phase the learner understands the requirements of the task.

There is some trial and error learning in this phase. For example if a novice tennis player is in the cognitive phase and needs to understand the serve, his/her teacher could demonstrate the correct technique and highlight important points (cueing) so that the player builds up a mental image of what needs to be done. This ‘visualisation’ of the movement is more effective if the teaching is simple, clear and concise. The second stage, the associative phase is the practice phase in which the learner receives feedback.

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Take the novice tennis player who is now aware of what needs to be done for the serve and has tried various strategies. His/her service is now more consistent and most serves fall into the service box. The performer is concentrating on getting the service lower and into different areas of the service box and the teacher is giving feedback. The performer is starting to detect and correct errors, even without the teachers help. In the final or autonomous phase execution of the skill is almost automatic.

The performer of the serve is now confident and able to consistently perform an accurate serve with the minimum amount of thought. The performer can now concentrate on more complex responses. When coaching or teaching a novice the tennis serve, there may be times when improvements could be slow – performance could even get worse. After twenty trials the novice may be getting fewer serves in the serving box than after ten trials. Give the novice a rest and reassess the goals. Go back to technique and give the performer success again to improve confidence.

When it is earned coaches need to give reassurance and plenty of praise. When a teacher or a coach presents a new skill to a student or seeks to develop the skills of an experienced performer he or she needs to decide the best way to transmit the knowledge necessary for effective performance. Visual guidance is used in early stages of teaching a skill. Demonstrations are the most common form. Important cues must be highlighted through this performance. Verbal guidance is not very effective if used on its own, except with very able performers who are at competition level.

However, with the use of visual guidance it can be very effective, especially to help identify and emphasise the most important cues. Manual and mechanical guidance is also important in the early stages of learning. It can help a performer cope with fear and can help with safety (e. g. buoyancy aids in swimming). An effective teaching style takes into account the six variables mentioned earlier. Some teachers are far more extrovert in their approach than others and may adopt a style which is far more open and sociable.

Teachers who are more introverted may adopt a style, which may ensure that they do not get into situations where they feel uncomfortable. Teachers who are very able physically may adopt a style to use their physical prowess for demonstration purposes. Some teachers are naturally more charismatic than others and so they tend to use a more teacher-centred approach. Coaches need to be aware of their own personality characteristics and abilities before they decide on the approach they will take. Some feel that teaching is an act and that a ‘performance’ is required.

They create an artificial ‘persona’ masking their own personality and abilities. Others believe that if they act out a role, their pupils will eventually find out and the learning that has been achieved will be devalued. Each individual must decide on his/her own personal style. The type of activity being taught also has an influence over the style the teacher adopts. For instance, if the activity is dangerous the coach is more likely to adopt a more strict and authoritarian style. If the activity is complex and the perceptual demands are high, a more explanatory style would be appropriate.

If the activity is a competition the teaching style will be more reassuring towards the performer(s) and motivation will play an important part in this style. The characteristics of the group or individuals being taught are another important element to take into account. Experience- a novice may need a more direct style to begin with so that he/she gains an understanding of what needs to be done. If the individual is highly experienced a more consultative or democratic style will allow the individual to give some valuable contributions and share in the decision making process.

Motivation- if the performers are highly motivated the coach can concentrate on the task rather than attempting to increase motivation. If motivation is low, the teaching style adopted should be more enthusing and reward based. Age- with very young children a non-threatening style should be adopted, with the emphasis on fun. As the performers get older the emphasis could be more democratic and more responsibility could be shifted onto them. There is nothing worse than a coach treating responsible adults like children and not valuing their input.

A key to successful teaching is to know the characteristics of those who are trying to learn and then to adopt a suitable approach. Environment- Teaching approaches may be affected by the situation. For instance, the weather may dictate the style adopted: a consultative, democratic is the last thing that is needed on a cold, wet day! In a dangerous, hostile environment a more task orientated approach could be called for. In 1986 Mosston and Ashworth identified a range of teaching styles, which are characterised by the amount of decisions that the teacher and the learner make in the teaching/learning process.

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