The stages of learning and implications for optimized learning environments

Authored by: Christopher P. Bertram , Mark A. Guadagnoli , Ronald G. Marteniuk

Routledge International Handbook of Golf Science

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138189126
eBook ISBN: 9781315641782
Adobe ISBN:


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The purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of the stages that learners of all motor tasks – including golf – go through on their way to becoming skilled players, or in some cases, elite players at the collegiate, national, or professional level. We present a learner-centred model based on the notion that the progression through the learning stages in golf involves an ever-decreasing reliance on conscious attention, ideally leading to a state of relative automaticity. During the early stages of learning, golfers rely heavily on information-processing mechanisms and conscious problem-solving processes. However, as skill increases, less attention is needed for the execution of the swing itself, thus freeing up cognitive resources, which can be focussed more effectively on task-relevant, external stimuli. We, furthermore, discuss the concept of optimal challenge (Guadagnoli & Lee, 2004) as a framework for helping to guide decision-making around the key factors in the design of more efficient learning environments. The implications for instructional philosophy and best practice within each of the stages of learning are discussed, as well as specific, evidence-based strategies for maintaining the often-fleeting state of automaticity in highly skilled golfers.

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