Coaching others to coach
Coaching others to coach

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5.1 Applying adult learning principles to your practice

In the following activity you’ll apply the principles you’ve just learned to an imaginary workshop scenario.

Activity 6 Applying the principles of adult learning

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes

In this activity you are going to use these principles to inform decisions involved in designing a 2–3 hour workshop intended to support the learning and development of coaches.

In the table below enter your ideas in the space opposite each of the six principles of adult learning. The workshop will support coaches working with children between 5 and 16 years of age in a large club environment. Most of the coaches will already have an initial coaching qualification. An example of one ‘application to workshop’ response is given below to help you consider how others may be completed.

Adult learning principleApplication to workshop
Need to know – how will you ensure this workshop meets the needs of the coaches and will benefit their coaching?Identifying the most pressing issues the coaches believe they have will help respond to this principle. Perhaps you will consult or survey their immediate needs when coaching children. You will then need to demonstrate how this helped you determine the focus and content of the workshop.
Experience – how might you draw on the experience and experiences of the coaches?
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Self-concept – how can you give coaches autonomy and responsibility for their learning?
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Readiness – will the content be appropriate to the coaches, are they ready for the content?
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Problem-based – How can you use and draw on the real and everyday issues and challenges the coaches have?
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Intrinsic motivation – how can you build and design opportunities into the workshop for coaches to experience success and positive feedback?
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Discussion

The following completed table is not intended to be an exhaustive application of adult learning principles to your environment. Instead it is intended to help you compare your own thoughts to other possibilities.

Adult learning principleApplication to workshop
Need to know – how will you ensure this workshop meets the needs of the coaches and will benefit their coaching?Identifying the most pressing issues the coaches believe they have will help respond to this principle. Perhaps you will consult or survey their immediate needs when coaching children. You will then need to demonstrate how this helped you determine the focus and content of the workshop.

Experience – how might you draw on the experience and experiences of the coaches?

You will need to devise activities that capture and recognise the different levels of coaching experience in the room and perhaps celebrate this diversity. One option is for you to match people and make groups based on those with more experience working alongside those with less experience. Consider the pros and cons of grouping coaches by the age group they coach or across age groups. Ultimately, how will all the experience present be best shared and used in the learning experience?
Self-concept – how can you give coaches autonomy and responsibility for their learning?

Two ways in which you can design opportunities for coaches to take responsibility for their learning might include:

i) ask them to find information before the workshop or come prepared with some problems, examples and questions they want to explore

ii) offer a choice of activities to pursue and work on activities most connected to their needs

Readiness - will the content be appropriate to the coaches, are they ready for the content?This principle is about the level of complexity coaches are able to tackle. You need to establish beforehand or early in the workshop their readiness for the content and allow some flexibility. Is the content appropriate for their level of experience and expertise is a critical question. Providing some additional reading or online links to those that want to pursue ideas further may be appropriate.
Problem-based - How can you use and draw on the real and everyday issues and challenges the coaches have?This links to ‘self concept’ (above) since if they provide existing challenges and problems before the workshop you are more likely to capture their attention. Prior preparation of some typical problems before the workshop based on your own experience may help. These can be made relevant to coaches’ context filter if you explore how any solutions would be adapted to their own situation.
Intrinsic motivation - how can you build and design opportunities into the workshop for coaches to experience success and positive feedback?Ideally early activities will be designed to allow success and constructive feedback. Think about how to support their motivation with stimulating examples that allow them to discover new insights. This would be supported by feedback that encourages further self-exploration of a topic.

In Session 1 the role of a facilitator was identified as one of several roles coach developers can undertake. Facilitators design, generate and organise learning content and activities for coaches. By applying the principles of adult learning you can enhance the effectiveness of the learning environments you create. This might offer coaches more opportunities to discover ideas that match and fit with their beliefs and attitudes filter and work for them in their context. Designing content relevant to their needs is likely to reduce any readiness to reject ideas straight away.

When you come to the part of the course that focuses on teaching (Session 5) you will come across these ideas again as they also form the basis of relevant teaching principles. For the moment read the example in the box below which describes how the principles of adult learning are informing coach learning and development at the Lawn Tennis Association.

Box 2 Applying the principles of adult learning in tennis

Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association has become a hub of adult learning, a concept that Simon Jones, the organisation’s Head of Performance Coach Education has considered at length: ‘Andragogy considers the principles of how adults learn and there are several things that stand out to me that we implement,’ he explains. ‘Adults learn best when they have a say and are involved in what they are learning. They learn best when they are sharing their own experiences with each other … and hearing about other people’s experiences’ (Leaders Performance Institute, 2019).

If you view learning as a form of change or development you will perhaps recognise that people can be resistant to change. Unlearning previous embedded practices can be difficult and this is the challenge you will explore in the following section.

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