Education for holistic coaching: pbl can, it seems, contribute to integrated, cross-discipline learning

Por: Poppy Turner e Robyn Jones.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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To give coaches a sense of the holistic and integrated nature of their work, a unit has been developed within the Coach Education and Sports Development degree at the University of Bath which uses problem-based learning (PBL) pedagogy. The purpose of this paper is to present the case for teaching coaching using PBL, and to illustrate the process by which we designed the unit in question.

The case for PBL

Coach education programmes to date have evolved along multidisciplinary lines leaving coaches to make the cross-subject connections for themselves. Recent research suggests they have consistently failed to do this (Saury & Durand, 1998; Jones, Armour & Potrac, 2004). For many, such programmes lack credibility, as, through compartmentalising coaching knowledge, they routinize and simplify high-level tasks (Macdonald & Tinning, 1995). PBL, on the other hand, is an approach which makes use of realistic, integrated and problematic scenarios to challenge students, and instil in them critical ways of thinking and problem-solving applicable to real world coaching situations.

Designing the problems/scenarios

The problems used as the basis of the unit were written by staff with coaching experience. They were cluttered, complex, multidimensional and thus realistic in nature, and demanded that students construct personal solutions drawn from a variety of sources (Hafler, 1991). Further realism was introduced by requirement for an end product which was assessed through group presentations and individual written work.

Preliminary student feedback.

The preliminary feedback received from students has been generally positive. Although there was an element of initial resistance, this was gradually overcome as the students increasingly engaged with the knowledges needed to address the problems set and of the need to integrate such knowledges into coherent, realistic solutions.


[1]. Jones, R.L., Armour, K.M., and Potrac, P. (2004). Sports coaching cultures: From practice to theory. London: Routledge.
[2]. Macdonald, D. and Tinning, R. (1995). Physical education, teacher education and the trend to proletarianization: A case study. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 15, 98-118.
[3]. Saury, J. and Durand, M. (1998). Practical knowledge in expert coaches: On-site study of coaching in sailing. Research Quarterly in Exercise and Sport, 69 (3), 254-266.



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