Learning in Physical Education

MQF Level: 7

ECTS Value: 3 ECTS

Self Study Hours: 36

Contact Hours: 15

Assessment Hours: 24


Overall Objectives and Outcomes

Learning often happens in decontextualized settings and the learner repeats a task often not knowing why s/he is repeating it and why, when and how that task is required in the sport that they practice. This module will allow the course participant to produce movement, as a result of, the perception-action coupling. This will allow to present conditions that can enhance and produce better learning. It shifts the emphasis from teaching to learning. Learning is envisaged from a student-centred perspective and adheres to more ecological theories of learning while considering also other modes of learning, particularly the impact of neuroscience in learning. It considers how learning can be used in similar and novel situations so that the student is able to become increasingly more autonomous and more aware of own learning. Different strategies and conditions of learning will be reviewed so that the course participant is able to develop competences in and through the PE lessons throughout the course of the years while emphasising reflection as an important a search for connections – between the conscious and subconscious. Learning is always happening – consciously or unconsciously. So, the learner needs to connect the dots and develop a personal meaning of the process and the content that is presented.  

Throughout this module, a strong emphasis is made on deep learning over shallow and strategic learning in view also of the Learning Outcomes Framework (LOF). While considering the complex nature of learning as indispensable and the application of non-linear pedagogy to learning, it is also emphasised that learning needs to be fun and presented in an interesting way and as such the role of emotion in learning will play a central role. This module considers from a practical point of view, the differences in learning by using different types of approaches, in particular, errorless learning, analogy and metaphor learning, contextual interference, and randomised and variable conditions amongst others. These will be used alongside Models Based Practice (MBP) approaches to ensure that these strategies will have maximum benefit within the LOF. 

By the end of this programme, participants should be able to:


a. Perform physical activities while using different practice types.

b. Devise activities and determine the effect of specific practice conditions.

c. Monitor the effect of learning under different specific learning conditions.


a. Systematically appreciate how different learning approaches lead to different outcomes in both short- and long-term learning.

b. Systematically recognise how an external focus of attention produces better learning and transfer.


a. Demonstrate the application of teaching through a more external focus and through a constraints-based approach.

b. Display the progress of students who are practicing in specific conditions.

c. Establish practice conditions for different physical activities and lesson plans targeting the learning outcomes framework for physical education;

d. Realise strategies that enhance problem solving and decision making.

Assessment Methods

This module will be assessed through: Practical Assignment Task and Presentation.

Suggested Readings

Core Reading List
  1. Abdollahipour, R., Palomo Nieto, M., Psotta, R., & Wulf, G. (2017). External focus of attention and autonomy support have additive benefits for motor performance in children. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 32, 17-24.Barreiros, J., Figueiredo, T., & Godinho, M. (2007) The contextual interference effect in applied   settings. European Physical Education Review. 13, (2), 195-208.

  2. Buszard, T., Reid, M., Farrow, D. & Masters, R.S.W. (2013) Implicit motor learning: Designing practice for performance. ITF Coaching and Sport Science Review, 60, 3 – 5.…

  3. Colquitt, G & Pritchard, T., Johnson, C. & McCollum, S. (2017). Differentiating Instruction in Physical Education: Personalization of Learning. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance. 88. 44-50. 10.1080/07303084.2017.1340205.

  4. Crotti, M., Rudd, J., Roberts, S., Fitton Davies, K., O’Callaghan, L., Utesch, T. & Foweather, L. (2022) Physical activity promoting teaching practices and children’s physical activity within physical education lessons underpinned by motor learning theory (SAMPLE-PE). PLOS ONE. 17. e0272339. 10.1371/journal.pone.0272339.


  6. Lee, M.C.Y., Chow J. Y., Komar, J., Tan C. W. K., Button, C . (2014) Nonlinear Pedagogy: An Effective Approach to Cater for Individual Differences in Learning a Sports Skill. PLoS ONE 9(8): e104744.

  7. Lee, T.D., Swanson, L.R., Hall, A.L. (1991) What Is Repeated in a Repetition? Effects of Practice Conditions on Motor Skill Acquisition. Physical Therapy, Volume 71, (2), 150–156.

  8. Masters, R. S. W., & Maxwell, J. P. (2008). The theory of reinvestment. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 1, 160–183.

  9. Moy, B., Renshaw, I., & Pavey, T. (2020) Impact of the constraints-led approach on students’ motor performance. Journal of Physical Education and Sport, 20(6), Article number: 4533345-3353.

  10. Schenck, J., & Cruickshank, J. (2015) Evolving Kolb: Experiential Education in the Age of Neuroscience. Journal of Experiential Education, 38(1), 73–95.

  11. Sigmundsson, H. & Trana, L., Polman, R. & Haga, M. (2017). What is Trained Develops! Theoretical Perspective on Skill Learning. Sports. 5. 38. 10.3390/sports5020038

  12. Wulf, G. (2007). Attention and motor skill learning. Champaign, IL: Human Kinematics.

  13. Wulf, G., & Weigelt, C. (1997). Instructions about physical principles in learning a complex motor skill: to tell or not to tell. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 68, 362-367.

Supplementary Reading List
  1. Bennet, D., Bennet, A. & Turner, R. (2015) Expanding the Self: The Intelligent Complex Adaptive Learning System (A New Theory of Adult Learning). Mountain Quest Institute.

  2. Blomqvist, M., Vänttinen, T. & Luhtanen, P. (2014) Assessment of secondary school students’ decision-making and game-play ability in soccer. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy 10, (2), 107-119.

  3. Lee, J. D. (2007) Affect, attention, and automation in A. F. Kramer, D. A. Wiegmann, A. Kirlik. (Eds.), Attention: from theory to practice, 73-89. Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press

  4. Williams, M.A. & Hodges, N.J. (2005). Practice, instruction and skill acquisition in soccer: Challenging tradition. Journal of sports sciences, 23, 637-50.

  5. Zull, J. (2002) The art of changing the brain. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

  6. Poolton, J. M., Masters, R. S. W., & Maxwell, J. P. (2005). The relationship between initial errorless learning conditions and subsequent performance. Human Movement Science, 24, 362–378.

  7. Kal E., Prosee R., Winters M., van der Kamp J. (2018) Does implicit motor learning lead to greater automatization of motor skills compared to explicit motor learning? A systematic review. PLoS ONE 13(9): e0203591.

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