Vygotsky in Practice: Applying Vygotskian notions to improve coach education in rugby union
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Tentative inroads have been made in advocating Vygotskian learning theory as a theoretical lens to view and shape sports coaching and coach education (Potrac, Nelson, Groom and Greenough, 2016; Jones, Thomas, Nunes and Filho, 2018). Despite Vygotsky’s ideas being promoted within education, limited literature exists within sports coaching and coach education that provides empirical evidence of its benefits (Vinson and Parker, 2019; Pritchard, 2019). Regardless of research confirming that social interaction is the principal source of knowledge development (Nelson and Cushion, 2006), there is limited evidence of this in practice, with coach education arguably addressing the agendas of the provider and coach developer before the coach (Stodter and Cushion, 2019). However, some research has addressed alternative approaches that privileges social interaction and recognises learning as a non-linear social process (Paquette and Trudel, 2018). Furthermore, pedagogical approaches to coaching such as game -centred approaches (GCA) that support non-linearity in learning have been promoted (Light, 2013). The aim of this study was to show how I, a coach educator, used Vygotskian notions to improve rugby coaches’ conceptual understanding of game principles and how to apply them in practice. The study involved a group of six student rugby coaches. Using action research, coaches delivered a 10-week rugby programme to a class of year 5 children, informed by Vygotskian notions and GCA. Data was collected on coach learning through observation of their ability to deliver through GCA, a reflective log detailing my reflections as coach educator and a series of focus groups with the coaches. Data was analysed using a combination of deductive and inductive thematic analysis (Braun and Clark, 2006). Findings highlighted the use of language, importance of the more capable other, embedding learning in context and providing time to internalise ideas as being key within the learning process. The study contributes to the developing body of empirical evidence that seeks to promote Vygotskian pedagogy as a credible theoretical lens, whilst recognising the complexities of sports coaching.
PhD Thesis - School of Sport and Health Sciences
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