Constructivism considers a range of different theories about learning, which looks at a person’s active involvement in that particular learning. It is said that the theories are based upon the principle that learning is most effective when a session is active, interactive and authentic (Newmann, 1994). The key aspect that defrenciates this from behaviourism is the idea that knowledge gets built up by the learner as a result of involvement (Sewell, 2002).

Social Constructivism considers the importance on how social encounters, can develop understanding. This is particularly key when young learners are in the presence of an adult or experienced teacher, whilst relying on them to talk through their ideas (Atherton, 2003b). The approach is a more multidimensional style, and it looks at integrating teams or groups to complete a challenge rather than individuals doing it by themselves (Light, 2008).

Cognitive Constructivism looks at the idea of learners understanding things in terms of developmental stages and through learning styles. It looks at key maturation growth where learning effectively ‘takes off.’ This then allows the learner to move develop new capabilities (Atherton, 2003b). The study by Piaget focused on children, and he argued that children actively processed the material presented to them through accommodation. Which meant he was keen to show that prior knowledge to a task played a massive effect on learning (Duncombe and Armour, 2004). 

I feel that constructivist approaches are good as it allows the athletes creativity to take over, and for them to learn by doing rather than being told what to do. From a constructivist perspective, learning is said to be most effective when certain characteristics are implemented (Newmann, 1994). A few examples of this could be, active engagement, groups work, frequent interaction and feedback (Foreman et al, 2004). In my opinion, the best form of learning is to make sessions feel real and allow individuals to explore. However, there are some limitations with constructivism. As a concept it is very one dimensional and relies on the leaners to take responsibility on their own development. This may mean that certain students would struggle to relate and be engaged as this might not be the way they learn best. I would also argue that some coaches may not enjoying using this concept as they may be very firm believers of blocked practice being the best way to learn, when constructivism works on the learner being engaged throughout. The best approach would be achieved when there is a strong relationship between the coach and athlete, and this would allow the theory to be maximised.

As an analyst, I feel that this approach can be valuable for some athletes, who like to find their own areas of weakness and then look to put those correct in training, without a coach having to encourage them to do so. This process could be done by giving the players a laptop with footage on, and ask them to find three areas of weakness in their performance and then ask them how they would rectify this. However, some players may not be able to see what mistakes they are making and why they are, so this approach will not benefit them, in some sense it could make them not appreciate the information being given to them and this could lead to them never improving and continuing to make the same mistakes.

Reference List

Atherton, J.S. (2003b) Learning and Teaching: Constructivism, accessed November 2020

Duncombe, R. and Armour, K.M. (2004) Collaborative professional development learning: from theory to practice, Journal of In-service Education, 30, 141–66.

Foreman, J., Gee, J.P., Herz, J.C., Hinrichs, R., Prensky, M. and Sawyer, B. (2004) Game-based learning: how to delight and instruct in the 21st century, EDUCAUSE Review, 39, 50–66.

Light, R. (2008). Complex learning theory in physical education: An examination of its epistemology and assumptions about how we learn. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 27, 21-37.​

Newmann, F. (1994). School-wide professional community. Madison, WI: Office of Educational Research and Improvement

Sewell, A. (2002). Constructivism and Student Misconceptions: Why Every Teacher Needs To Know about Them. Australian Science Teachers’ Journal, 48(4). 24-28.

Behaviourist Approaches to Learning

In this Blog I will be discussing what behaviourism is and the effects that it has on learning, and then how I would relate it to my own practice. Behaviourism is the concept of how people react to different learning responses, for example the learning environment could cause a variety of responses from different learners (Chambers, 2011). There are two types; Classical conditioning and Operant conditioning.

Classical conditioning focuses on natural responses to a stimulus. A theory that is often used to define this is ‘Pavlovs Theory.’ This study essentially looked at the idea that animals and humans are all biologically created so that a certain stimulus will lead to a certain response (Cheetham & Chivers, 2001). The experiment involved a dog, a bowl of food and a bell. In this test the dog was given a bowl of food, the unconditioned stimulus, which meant that the dog produced saliva, the unconditioned response. The bell was then introduced which is the conditioned stimulus, it was always presented to the dog as a sign that food would be given. After time, the food was then removed from the scenario, and only the bell would be rung, which would lead to the dog producing saliva. This made Pavlovs theory have some reasoning to it, and showed that a learned behaviour had occurred, due to the dog associating the bell with food. From this learning was deemed to be a result of conditioning (Atherton , 2003a). In analysis, if the team had a certain philosophy and performance indicators, a player would know what certain words meant and this would generate a response. An example would be the ‘five yard fury’ indicator. This looks at the response to winning the ball back as soon as possible. In this instance, the neutral stimulus would be the football. The unconditioned stimulus would be the defending team pressing to win the ball back, and this is what causes the reaction to do so. Over time this will be a learned behaviour. If a reward occurs, in this sense winning possession back would be seen as this, then the response is more probable in the future (Atherton, 2003a).

Operant conditioning considers a behaviour that is controlled by its consequences. When in practice, operant conditioning is the study of ‘reversible behaviour, which is maintained by different forms of reinforcement.To start, there are two forms of reinforcement, negative and positive (Schunk, 2004). Negative reinforcement is when the authority figure is going to take something away that the learner considers to be unpleasant (Vialle et al, 2005). Positive reinforcement is when something is added in order to increase an individuals behaviour (Eggen & Kauchak, 2004). A sporting example for football would be to offer financial bonuses or trophies. The majority of professional footballers have goal or assist bonus in their contracts, this is a form of positive reinforcement. A good example for negative reinforcement in football would be a player doing something to prevent the coach from ‘nagging’ them. This might involve a player who does not shoot often, shooting so the manager can not complain at them. Another area of operant coaching is punishment and this appears in two forms, presentation and removal. Presentation punishment gives the learner an ‘if you don’t do this you will do this’ decision. An example of this in football would be, if you don’t score today you won’t get your goal bonus. Removal punishment looks at taking away something that the learner defines as valuable. So in more development sport environments, this could mean splitting two friends up as they are interrupting the coaches instructions (Eggen & Kauchak, 2004).

Reference List

Atherton, J.S., 2003. Learning and teaching: Knowles’ andragogy. Retrieved January24, p.2006.

Chambers, F. (2011) Learning Theory for effective learning in practice in Armour, K. (Ed) Sport Pedagogy – An introduction for teaching and coaching (pp 39-52). London. Routledge.

Cheetham, G. And Chivers, G. (2001) How professionals learn in practice: an investigation of informal learning amongst people working in professions. Journal of European industrial education, 25, 248-92.

Eggen, P. & Kauchak, D. (2004) Educational Psychology. Windows on Classrooms. 6th Edition. New Jersey: Pearson

Schunk, D. (2004) Learning Theories. An Educational Perspective. 4th Edition. New Jersey: Pearson.​

Staddon, J.E. and Cerutti, D.T., 2003. Operant conditioning. Annual review of psychology54(1), pp.115-144.

Vialle, W., Lysaght, P. & Verenikina, I. (2005) Psychology for Educators. Melbourne: Thomson.  


Epistemology is considered to be the branch of philosophy that is troubled with the nature and scope of knowledge. The whole concept is interested in finding out what knowledge is, how it is used in practice and then how we as humans know what we know (Collins, Collins & Grecic, 2013)​. In my own interpretation of epistemology, I feel as though it is considering my own beliefs on how learning is achieved and how knowledge is retained. This ties in nicely to my findings on The five dimensions of Epistemology Model (Schommer 1990-1995).

The five strands he was able to break them down into were; 1: The source of knowledge, 2: Certainty of knowledge, 3: Simple knowledge, 4: Quick learning and then 5: Innate ability. A study that would have been looked at by Schommer would be that of Perry in the 1960s, where he outlined ideas that knowledge had two sides to it and there were reasons for different beliefs (Perry, 1968). For example, in strand 1 of this model, I believe that both the ‘authority figure’ and the ‘learner’ have to do equal amounts in order to deliver and learn. For instance in analysis, a clip of a players individual performance could be given to them, the work has been done by the analyst in finding the clips, it is then the players responsibility to watch the clips and understand their strengths and weaknesses.

Another area epistemology links to is a practitioners philosophy. The term philosophy also considers the belief of an individual, but in a sporting term, this is the idea and style a coach would work in. Dammon Burton considered the meaning and found that a persons philosophy is a set of beliefs that guide their behaviour and approach, which leads to a difference in decision making to another coach or practitoner (Burton & Radeke, 2008). With regards to analysis the style of this has to be tailored around the coaches beliefs and the requirements, so no analysis will be identical at another club.

The image below shows my own epistemological beliefs and how I think people learn best. Nobody has the same thoughts as this, which makes it difficult for coaches or practitioners to treat every player in the same way. In my opinion I feel as though learners have to do equal amount of work to the authority figure. However, the most important belief on there is learning always happens. It does not matter how long it takes to learn of develop, it will happen at some point. Faculty can larger boost an individuals motivation, which will only benefit their interactions to the messages being given by the authority figure (Paulsen, 1999)

Reference List

Burton, D. and Raedeke, T.D., 2008. Sport psychology for coaches. Human Kinetics.

Collins, L., Collins, D. and Grecic, D., 2015. The epistemological chain in high-level adventure sports coaches. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning15(3), pp.224-238.

Paulsen, M.B. and Feldman, K.A., 1999. Student Motivation and Epistemological Beliefs. New directions for teaching and learning78, pp.17-25.

Perry Jr, W.G., 1968. Patterns of Development in Thought and Values of Students in a Liberal Arts College: A Validation of a Scheme. Final Report.

Schommer, M., 1994. Synthesizing epistemological belief research: Tentative understandings and provocative confusions. Educational psychology review6(4), pp.293-319.

About Me

Hi my name is Max Rothwell and I am currenlty 19 years old and am a student at UCLAN in my second year on the BA Honours Sports Coaching and Performance Degree. I have a very keen interest in performance analysis, particularly in football and I enjoy seeing how players develop and get to their best potential. As a person, I was never a good enough footballer to be in the professional environment, so the next best thing would be to work in it. I feel as though documenting blogs on my progression through my sporting career will only benefit me, by learning from mistakes and trying new ideas and ways of presenting information. This in time will help me become a better professional and person.

Through these blogs, I will be documenting my progression as an analyst and any coaching ventures that I have. I am currently in the process of partaking in the FA level 1 in football and the FA Talent ID level 2, having completed the level 1 a few years ago, and used this a few times whilst assisting a Liverpool FC scout on a few occasions across the North West.

My coaching journey started when I was 14 and I helped coach swimming lessons for Burnley Bobcats. I picked up key communication skills in this time and this then helped me when I went into football coaching. I assisted my old manager with an under 14s team and used my experiences to help improve each player. When I started at college I became interested in the analysis side of football and being able to help player progression in a different way.

Most recently, I have been working alongside the academy analysts at Burnley Football Club. From liaising with coaches at the club, I have gained an understanding on how to present information in the most informative but simple way possible, and I feel like I could carry this into any coaching ventures.

My aim is to work in performance analysis at the highest level of football whether that is in England or over seas. Along the way through that journey, I would aim to pick up coaching badges, so I would be well equipped to eventually coach at a high level. I look forward to posting more blogs and keeping you informed on my progression and findings.