Learning theories have been influential since the 20th century and are now used as diagnostic tools to help identify styles in which learners learn, (Avis et al. 2010). The summary behind these concepts, propose that all people learn differently, and to ensure individual learning needs teachers need to recognize these styles to address differentiation and learning needs of individual within group of learners, (Jarvis, 2006). The key learning theories from research are; behaviourism, cognitivism and humanist. Key academics Pavlov, Skinner and Watson (1973) influence the theory behind behaviourism. They approach behaviourism as a scientific approach towards a desired goal, consisting of reinforcement to shape behaviour. In thus the teachers act as a stimulant; shaping behaviour via repetition and habit forming to create a response. However influential theorists Bruner (1966), Piaget (1926) and Gagne (1985), argue that this style is manipulative, the learner will know how that learning process takes place but not necessarily know why? Behaviourist looked at the environment stimuli influencing response, whereas cognitivists look at the individual’s mental process in learning and how they gain that knowledge. Bruner (1966) believes people learn with the acquisition of knowledge as social process of problem solving. The focus stems to establishing positive conditions that promote the individuals path of being ‘ready to learn’, establishing a ‘meaning to learning’; with initiative and analytical thinking and finally with relevance of self- fulfilment of what ‘motivates the learner’. This takes away the behaviourist approach of learning without an external reward to learning with independent meaning in which you create your own path. Lastly Humanist approach to learning develops the idea of the learners at the centre of the learning process, (Maslow, 1970 and Rodgers et al, 1983). Rogers (1983) influenced this approach and believed that each learner is free to direct their own learning and as a teacher, we should facilitate this by concentrating on the whole learner as development of self-worth. In general, if we engage the ‘whole person’ including their emotions, skills and knowledge; we are facilitating their certain fulfilment of learning in thus satisfying their thirst of new knowledge. This differs from the behaviourist stimulated rewards and the cognitivists idea of controlling the social environment. Instead as a humanist the learner has freedom to learn and grown with dignity and self-worth. Each approach has its own positives to learning and the teaching process but from a sports coaching specialism research by Gagne (1985), hold specificity to a practical and theory approach. Gagne (1985) mixes a combination of behaviourism and cognitivism as conditions for effective learning. His research takes into consideration internal conditions; such as skills the learner has already mastered to external conditions including those arranged by the teacher. His research expresses a systematically plan of preparations the learner undertakes to accept learning. Linking this to sports coaching research; it now tells us we need to teach games for understanding (TGFU), and a coach is ‘facilitator of learning’; this is a cognitive discovery learning mechanism meaningful to the learner. But as a learner coach we also need to express the importance of technique, health and safety etc.; across a wide range of sports in thus is scientific, sometimes passive for the learner and is most definitely a transfer of important knowledge outlying behaviourism. With a mix of two key learning theories Gagne’s (1985) approach is influential in which yes we build foundations first and use a progressive hierarchy of skills to guide the learner but it’s also important to express this independence of social environment. “Coaches’ knowledge and actions are both the product and manifestation of a personally experienced involvement with the coaching...
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