Teaching Motor Learning Concepts in Physical Education

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  • 0:04 Understanding Motor Learning
  • 0:49 Stages of Motor…
  • 1:49 Examples of Motor Learning
  • 3:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

As a physical education teacher, you have the opportunity to really help your students learn to use their bodies. This lesson discusses what it means to teach concepts of motor learning in the context of a physical education class.

Understanding Motor Learning

Joanna has only been a physical education (PE) teacher for three years, but she understands how important her role is to the elementary-aged students she works with. After all, Joanna provides them with an opportunity to use and work with their bodies, giving them a break from the stillness required by the rest of their school day.

One thing Joanna is thinking about this year is how she can do more direct teaching in her classes. Instead of simply letting students play, she really wants to think about how she can help them grow their physical capacities. Joanna attends a professional development workshop about motor learning concepts, or what it means to learn to use gross motor skills over time. She starts to think about how she can teach motor learning concepts in her physical education class.

Stages of Motor Learning Concepts

Joanna learns that motor learning usually happens in three different stages. The first stage is the cognitive stage, in which students learn about what the skill they are developing means, how it works, and why it might matter. Joanna knows that when she learned to hit a baseball, she first watched other players hit and thought about what went into the relevant movements.

In the second state, known as the associative stage, students practice the movement again and again with the help of someone else. Joanna remembers that she used to be really clumsy hitting a ball, but a coach would stand over her, guide her movements, offer advice, and help her tune into what her body was doing. The associative stage is often the longest stage of motor learning.

The third stage is the autonomous stage, where students continue to practice the movement, but they no longer need the close guidance of a coach. Joanna has been hitting a ball on her own for years now, but she sometimes goes to a batting cage to practice. In the autonomous stage, she remembers the advice and guidance of her coaches, but she does not need them right there with her any more.

Examples of Motor Learning

Now that Joanna understands these stages, she finds ways to incorporate them into her PE classes. For example, Joanna has been working on skipping and leaping with her kindergarten students. She can see that learning these movements is really difficult for them.

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