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Skill Learning Theories Essay

2397 words - 10 pages

Theorists, for centuries, have developed their own conclusions regarding the ways in which people learn. B. F. Skinner was one of these people who endeavored to discover the psychology behind human behavior. Skinner formed the Operant Conditioning theory, which is defined as the modification of a player’s behaviour through punishment and reinforcement to achieve greater learning and development (Case & Bereiter, 1984). These punishments and reinforcements are either positive or negative as they result in an increase or decrease of a specific behaviour (Porter, 2007). Reinforcement is either the receiving of something pleasant (e.g. a chocolate bar) or the removal of something unpleasant ...view middle of the document...

The target result is specific to the drill. An example of this is when Georgie, the coach, stood at the defensive third of the netball court and informed the players on what must be done for better flow of the ball. The goal in mind was to successfully move the ball to the attacking third (target result). She gave specific instructions and directions to all players and when one failed to comply, Georgie ‘singled’ the player out in front of the team and replaced them with another player. This demonstrates negative punishment because the player was removed from the court. Scheduling is an important component of operant conditioning. It can be achieved through controlling the flow of information directly from the coach to the player with an “instructional objective” in mind (Case & Bereiter, 1984). As the “passing down the court” drill progressed, Georgie supplied more information once the players demonstrated they had understood the previous instructions.
A positive consequence of the direct method for the learners includes the reproduction of existing knowledge. In our observation, the goal attack had demonstrated prior knowledge of the “Christmas Tree” drill (where the ball is passed from player to player in a Christmas tree formation), as she performed it for the less experienced goal shoot. A second positive consequence is that the players gain the ability to understand different instructions given by different coaches. For example, Georgie could have a different approach to reinforcement and punishment from a player’s previous coach. Therefore players would have to adapt from one style to another. A third positive consequence is that the session is likely to be very focused and players have the chance to refine a certain skill. In our observation the wing attack had trouble with the “turn and pass” drill, as she wasn’t “keeping her eye on the ball”, as Georgie explained. Georgie continued with the drill until the wing attack could perform it correctly.
A negative consequence for the learner is that the coach gives little recognition to individual needs. For example, the goal attack and goal shoot were addressed as one, since they share the goal circle. However, they both clearly had different strengths and weaknesses. A second negative consequence is that the direct method discourages problem solving. For example, Georgie told the players what to do and when to do it. The players had no chance to figure it out for themselves. The third consequence is that players are not considered active learners. A player’s ability to teach themselves is discouraged, as information was fired in only one direction from the Georgie to the players.
An additional view of learning that will be discussed is the Social Cognitive Theory developed by Albert Bandura. Bandura (1962, cited in Crain 1980. p.228) argues that in social situations people often learn rapidly by simply observing the behavior of others. The wider perspective is that we examine the...

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