The relational positioning of equestrian sports pedagogy as a unique and specialist variant of sports pedagogy

Hall, Cristine Anne (2016) The relational positioning of equestrian sports pedagogy as a unique and specialist variant of sports pedagogy. [Thesis (PhD/Research)]

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Abstract

Equestrian coaches offer their specialist knowledge and expertise in developing many successful partnerships between people and horses in a range of equestrian sports, from junior events at the local Pony Club to the Olympic Games. However, the ways in which coaches contribute to these equestrian successes through their teaching have not been widely researched. This thesis explores how equestrian coaches teach by examining their teaching perceptions, observing their teaching actions, and identifying the role of the horse in their teaching. This is an important topic because there is an independently responsive horse to consider in equestrian sports, which is not a factor present in other sports. New knowledge generated by this research has the potential to advance our understanding of the complex interactions that occur between the coach, student, and horse triad, and to assist in developing appropriate coach education resources and programs in equestrian sports.

The literature review shows that there was minimal research regarding teaching by equestrian coaches, so three research questions were designed to build on existing knowledge about how other sports coaches teach and how people and horses connect. A conceptual lens of Equestrian Sports Pedagogy (ESP), which represents the interactions between the coach, student, and horse, was created to guide the research. A three-stage mixed methods research design was implemented using a Survey questionnaire (N=92), Researcher observations (N=12+2), and Participant interviews (N=8). The teaching styles that equestrian coaches believe they use, and that were observed using in practice, were identified by using the theoretical framework of Mosston and Ashworth’s (2008) Spectrum of Teaching Styles. How the horse impacts on equestrian coaches’ teaching was also explored. Both quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection and analysis were used to address the diversity of these research questions.

Two major findings are reported. The first came from the identification of a clear discrepancy between how the equestrian coaches perceive they teach, and how they were observed to teach in practice. Participants nominated three predominant Spectrum teaching styles: Styles A (Command), B (Practice), and F (Guided Discovery). However, only Styles A and B were observed in their teaching activities. Therefore, the results suggest that equestrian coaches are only teaching known, rather than new, knowledge. This is a similar discrepancy to that found by Hewitt (2015) in teaching tennis, suggesting that a divergence of teaching beliefs to observed practice is not restricted to equestrian sports. Additionally, the horse has no apparent influence on equestrian coaches’ choice of Spectrum teaching styles, as related to coach and student interactions. However, the second major finding was that the horse does contribute to how equestrian coaches teach, and that they play a significant pedagogical role in equestrian sports. Their contributions are unique to coaching equestrian sports. Overall, these two major findings suggest that ESP can be considered both the same/similar and different to the pedagogy found in other sports. Thus, identifying the differences has helped to relationally position ESP as a specialist variant of sports pedagogy.

The overall findings mean that when teaching equestrian sports is perceived as similar to teaching in other sports, results from addressing such topics as teaching beliefs and observed actions in general sports pedagogy will be of value to coach development in equestrian sports. Using literature from sports pedagogy may be favourably applicable to coach education in equestrian sports, although it would help if the theoretical constructs from sports pedagogy could be sufficiently modified so that the interactions of the horse can be recognised. When teaching equestrian sports is perceived as different from pedagogy in other sports generally, literature from equestrian sports or associated disciplines may need to be incorporated to fully appreciate the interaction of the horse, and its impact, on the teaching pedagogy. Additionally, this may mean that any future research into topics associated with teaching equestrian sports is of value in general sports pedagogy.

The research presented in this thesis indicates that generalised coach education may not always be adequate for the educative requirements of equestrian coaches. There is a need to progress pedagogical theory that is specifically tailored to suit equestrian sports. This could be undertaken along with, or parallel to, that of general sports. It is expected that developing a better theoretical understanding of teaching and learning with horses will benefit equestrian coaches in the future, and that benefit can feasibly be achieved through improved coach education. Positioning future research of ESP relationally to that of other sports has the potential to significantly contribute to a collection of new knowledge that will be of interest to several research and practice domains. It is expected that the interest group will include researchers and
practitioners of sports pedagogy, in addition to equestrian coaches and their students and horses, and to coach educators in many other sports.


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Item Type: Thesis (PhD/Research)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Linguistics, Adult and Specialist Education
Supervisors: Edwards, Kenneth; Hammer, Sara
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2017 04:39
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2018 03:09
Uncontrolled Keywords: equestrian coaches; equestrian sports pedagogy
Fields of Research : 13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130299 Curriculum and Pedagogy not elsewhere classified
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/32854

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