Aligning teaching to the students’ level of understanding

A teachers job is not simply to give information at an appropriate level of complexity, but to ignite engagement with learning. How do we achieve engagement? For me right now I believe this comes down to setting the right conditions/constraints, building effective relationships and aligning teaching activities to the group’s level of understanding.

Regarding the latter, if my aim is ‘to understand how to correct movement’ a didactic method may include the teacher talking through movement correction frameworks, frame problems and provide solutions and ‘give the student’ an evidence informed professional opinion of the best way of correcting movement. This may be an ideal way of facilitating learning if a room of students are working at the uni-structural level and have ‘gaps in knowledge’. However, if we are working with students at multistructural levels of understanding and want to move them towards relational and extended abstract levels, we may facilitate further learning through problem based learning or other more active and involved methods of facilitating learning. This may involve providing a case study of an athlete and asking the group to design a corrective exercise programme with justification for strategies used in the format of a power point presentation or verbal discussion/debate. Assuming the group have the knowledge required, this will enable them to begin ‘linking concepts and ideas and put them into context’.

I have made the mistake of using this method too early e.g. those still developing basic knowledge of the sport sciences. Therefore, it is important to recognise what level your students are working at. Generally, as a rule of thumb year 2 undergraduates will have developed a pretty homogenous multi-structural level of understanding and would benefit from a move to methods extending learning to a more complex relational and extended abstract level of understanding.

A less biased and integrated approach to teaching that aligns the activities and methods to the desired outcomes and current level of understanding is, in my opinion, more appropriate and effective than a teaching method dominated and biased towards purely teacher-led or student-led methods