chapter  8
18 Pages

Athlete learning

In 2010, Sports Coach UK released a review of literature on coach learning and development (Cushion et al. 2010). The review was structured around ‘learning sources’ (informal, nonformal and formal), which reflected a constructivist view of learning, and focused on specific strategies to support it, e.g. reflection, mentoring and problem-based learning. The authors, however, did say that if we are to increase coaches’ knowledge, it is ‘essential’ to better understand ‘different conceptions of learning … the theories supporting them, and the assumptions that underpin them’ (Cushion et al. 2010: 7). Yet, developing such an understanding is not a straightforward exercise. This is because learning is a complex and broad concept that is perceived (and, therefore categorized) in varied and contested ways (Armour 2010; Cushion et al. 2010). For example, Cushion et al. (2010) categorized perspectives of learning under the headings of behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism, while others have subdivided constructivism into psychological constructivism and social

constructivism (Phillips 2000). The content of this chapter is organized into two broad categories, behaviourism and constructivism, with the latter being further divided into psychological and social constructivism. A psychological constructivist orientation views learners as active constructors of meaning or understanding and perceives knowledge as being ‘made, not acquired’ (Phillips 2000: 7). Those who hold a social constructivist orientation consider that over time, ‘public bodies of knowledge’ are socially constructed and are influenced by, amongst other things, ‘politics, ideologies, values, the exertion of power and the preservation of status, religious beliefs, and economic self-interest’ (2000: 6).