Practice what you preach: Applying Kolb’s Learning Cycle to Sport Psychology
March 18, 2015
Lifelong learning is an important activity for professionals that work in complex practices. The practices can often be complex, unpredictable and difficult to standardise (Reinhardt, Schmidt, Sloep & Drachsler, 2011). Learning theory can be used to explain the transitions that one goes through when developing an expertise. Learning by doing is an example of these transitions, Anderson, Pirolli, and Farrell (1988) found that in the case of computer programmers, 50 individuals did not learn from abstract instruction, such as from textbooks, instead they learned when faced with the challenge of solving a problem. By using experimentation and individual can use all of their psychological faculties to solve problems and develop their expertise. Hansman (2001) examines mentoring, coaching and on the job training. This specific setting training helps to develop situated cognition. On the Job training is the process which involves a lead person or supervisor often passing on their job or skill related knowledge to other employees. Within sport psychology in the UK this is the preferred method of training for sport psychologists after a period of knowledge acquisition. This method can often be structured or unstructured as well as general or specific into relation to the skills which the ‘mentee’ is to acquire (Barron, Berger & Black 1997). The stage 2 process and further development of sport psychology over a career is often dependant on experiential learning (Kolb, 1984). Kolb's cycle moves through concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation which are often encouraged within the stage 2 processes.
Kolb, et al. (2002) have established a conversation learning approach in which learners construct meaning and transform experience through conversation, ideally with those who are more experienced that the learner in order to develop good professional practice. It can be suggested that experiential learning will play a significant role in higher education in the future. Dewey (1938) proposes that experience in continuous and the process of experiential learning is of important to education and adult development. Experience, inquiry and reflection are fundamental to experiential learning. Real world experiences leave learners with a deeper meaning of the learning that has taken place and can enable a more fruitful conceptualisation and experimentation (Ka Yuk Chan, C., 2012). The stage 2 candidate is expected to take control of their learning at an early stage and outline their plans to develop themselves both personally and professionally. This process allows the novice or neophyte practitioner to develop into the expert incrementally acquiring skills through experience. It could therefore be suggested that sets of rules and guidelines on which to base supervision and development of expertise can be set out. The ability to have a technical command of the knowledge, and to be able to use the skills developed over time should assist in the development of the expert performance or help develop a professional artistry. In short the thinking, doing, watching and feeling allows sport psychologists to develop effective skills in their practice and can further enhance their understanding of techniques such as imagery, relaxation, goal setting and self-talk. So ask yourself do you practice what you preach.
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