A constraints-led perspective to understanding skill acquisition and game play: a basis for integration of motor learning theory and physical education praxis?

RENSHAW, I, CHOW, J Y, DAVIDS, K and HAMMOND, J (2010). A constraints-led perspective to understanding skill acquisition and game play: a basis for integration of motor learning theory and physical education praxis? Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 15 (2), 117-137.

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Link to published version:: 10.1080/17408980902791586

Abstract

Background: In order to design appropriate environments for performance and learning of movement skills, physical educators need a sound theoretical model of the learner and of processes of learning. In physical education, this type of modelling informs the organisation of learning environments and effective and efficient use of practice time. An emerging theoretical framework in motor learning, relevant to physical education, advocates a constraints-led perspective for acquisition of movement skills and game play knowledge. This framework shows how physical educators could use task, performer and environmental constraints to channel acquisition of movement skills and decision-making behaviours in learners. From this viewpoint, learners generate specific movement solutions to satisfy the unique combination of constraints imposed on them, a process which can be harnessed during physical education lessons.

Aims: In this paper the aim is to provide an overview of the motor learning approach emanating from the constraints-led perspective, and examine how it can substantiate a platform for a new pedagogical framework in physical education: nonlinear pedagogy. We aim to demonstrate that it is only through theoretically valid and objective empirical work of an applied nature that a conceptually sound nonlinear pedagogy model can continue to evolve and support research in physical education. We present some important implications for designing practices in games lessons, showing how a constraints-led perspective on motor learning could assist physical educators in understanding how to structure learning experiences for learners at different stages, with specific focus on understanding the design of games teaching programmes in physical education, using exemplars from Rugby Union and Cricket.

Findings: Research evidence from recent studies examining movement models demonstrates that physical education teachers need a strong understanding of sport performance so that task constraints can be manipulated so that information-movement couplings are maintained in a learning environment that is representative of real performance situations. Physical educators should also understand that movement variability may not necessarily be detrimental to learning and could be an important phenomenon prior to the acquisition of a stable and functional movement pattern. We highlight how the nonlinear pedagogical approach is student-centred and empowers individuals to become active learners via a more hands-off approach to learning.

Conclusions: A constraints-based perspective has the potential to provide physical educators with a framework for understanding how performer, task and environmental constraints shape each individual's physical education. Understanding the underlying neurobiological processes present in a constraints-led perspective to skill acquisition and game play can raise awareness of physical educators that teaching is a dynamic 'art' interwoven with the 'science' of motor learning theories.

Item Type: Article
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Centre for Sports Engineering Research
Identification Number: 10.1080/17408980902791586
Depositing User: Carole Harris
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2011 09:58
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2011 09:58
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/3344

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