Lum, Oliver

Start date:
October 2018
Research Topic:
Developing the pedagogical creativity of coaches
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Professor Robyn Jones and Dr Gethin Thomas
Supervising school:
Cardiff School of Sport,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Wales DTP Studentship

Since Jones (2006) explicitly conceptualised the role of the sports coach as educator over a decade ago, recognition of the pedagogical nature of coaching has gained increasing credibility (e.g., Nelson et al., 2016; Culver & Trudel, 2008). Ideas from constructivist learning theorists in particular have come to be used as common currency when making sense both of coaching practice and how to teach it. One such theorist given increasing attention in this regard has been Lev Vygotsky. Here, work by Jones and Ronglan (2017), Jones, Edwards and Viotto Filho (2016), Jones et al. (2018), and Potrac et al. (2016) has somewhat interrogated Vygotsky’s writings in terms of what they may mean for coaches and coaching. Although making welcome inroads in terms of opening alternative coaching horizons, numerous gaps continue to exist in terms of purposively thinking through what Vygotsky’s work can mean for athlete learning (Jones et al., 2018).

The purpose of this study is to construct a broad action research approach, incorporating the theoretical perspective of Lev Vygotsky, to further develop coaches’ pedagogical practice. This broad aim will be addressed through five detailed research questions;

  • What is the value to coaches of developing their knowledge through Vygotskyan concepts such as mediation, dialectical engagement, learner imitation and scaffolding (Vygotsky, 1978, 1987)?
  • What are the principal issues and dilemmas experienced by coaches in the field, and how can they be dealt with through adherence to Vygotskyan ideas?
  • What do coaches ‘see’ or observe whilst coaching (in terms of athlete learning), and how do they subsequently scaffold related activities?
  • How can a process to establish athletes’ zones of proximal developments (ZPDs) be formally developed?
  • How can coach learning opportunities, inclusive of an explicit link between mediated, unmediated and internal learning sources, be formally developed?