Teaching Styles in Equestrian Coaching

Think about this for a
moment! You may know what you coach or why you coach but have you considered
how you coach? As a coach you can use a variety of teaching styles in your lessons
with students. You could be more familiar with the words coaching or
instructional styles or even facilitative methods or approaches depending on
your discipline and training. Many equestrian coaches use a more direct style
of teaching in their lessons where the coach gives commands or demonstrates and
the students follow their cues.

Equestrian Coaches Only!

Think about this for a moment! You may know what you coach or why you coach but have you considered how you coach?

As a coach you can use a variety of teaching
styles in your lessons with students. You could be more familiar with the words coaching or instructional styles or even facilitative methods or approaches depending on your
discipline and training. Many equestrian coaches use a more direct style of teaching in their lessons where the
coach gives commands or demonstrates and the students follow their cues.

Take the survey below
about equestrian coaching styles

Think of one of your lessons where you say: Whole ride,
trot and the whole ride
trots on or you say:Everyone, come in here and everyone comes in together to the designated place. These
are typical examples where you as the coach are making all or almost all of the
decisions and taking responsibility for the students’ learning in the lesson.

Another similar style of teaching allows the
students to take a little more responsibility in making decisions by practising
for a set time on their own or working with a partner. Does this
type of teaching style sound familiar? By taking more responsibility and making more of the decisions,
students can also assess their own performance against set criteria or choose
the level of difficulty to participate.

If you use words such as Command, Practice,
Reciprocal, Self-check or Inclusion when you talk about your teaching style/s
in coaching, you are most likely using teaching styles that encourage students
toreproduce
existing knowledge, replicate models, recall information and practice skills. If, for example, you are teaching your
students how to brush their horse correctly, pick out their feet safely, or
ride through a showjumping grid several times, you are most likely using these
teaching styles.

Take the survey about
equestrian coaching

Other teaching styles that you may use in your
lessons will seek to shift that decision-making responsibility even further
from the coach to the student. These styles are Guided Discovery, Convergent
Discovery, Divergent Discovery, Learner-Designed, Learner-Initiated or
Self-Teaching where the student is more likely to discover new knowledge for themselves. If, for example, your students are exploring
new ways to communicate with their horse then it is more likely that you are
using these teaching styles.

In these articles, the student makes more
decisions to be responsible for their own learning in the lessons. Be careful
though when thinking about the teaching style/s that you are using – sometimes
names are used in a general sense that do not always accurately describe what
happens. For example, coaches sometimes say they use Guided Discovery with a
group of students. It is more likely that Guided Discovery is used as a
teaching style with one student rather than a group.

Generally speaking, Guided Discovery calls for
the coach to ask a series of questions so that the student can discover the
answer. It is difficult for all students to achieve individual learning at the
same rate as others when in a group. Depending on how they are learning, some
students will want to ask different questions to other students when
discovering the answer.

The eleven teaching styles of Command,
Practice, Reciprocal, Self-check, Inclusion, Guided Discovery, Convergent
Discovery, Divergent Discovery, Learner-Designed, Learner-Initiated and
Self-Teaching (labelled A-K) are found along a continuum known as the Spectrum
of Teaching Styles. Because there could be an infinite number of teaching
styles, these eleven are known as landmark teaching styles.

Take the survey for
equestrian coaches below

The Spectrum of Teaching Styles, developed by
MuskaMosston, and over time refined during a collaboration with Sara Ashworth
(2008) is a unified theory about teaching and learning behaviour that is a
comprehensive framework for understanding the teaching/learning process. The
Spectrum is built on the idea that teaching behaviour is a chain of
decision-making and that every deliberate act of teaching is a result of a
previous decision.

Professor Sara Ashworth describes a teaching
style as a plan of action that defines the specific decision interaction
of the teacher [or coach] and the learner [or student] for the purpose of
leading to the development of specific objectives in subject matter and
behaviour.

Most equestrian coaches know why they coach. And as you become more experienced
as a coach, you know more about the content of your lessons. When you feel
confident about what you are teaching when you are coaching, you also can think about how you are actually delivering that content for
your students in the lessons.

As an equestrian coach, think of how you are
coaching at the moment and the variety of teaching styles that you use.
Consider how well that is working for you. Knowing that there are different
teaching styles that a coach can use is useful information. Using a variety of
those teaching styles may help a coach achieve different learning objectives
that are set in each lesson.

Take a moment to reflect on that have been
discussed here. Which do you use in your lessons? See if you can decide which of the different
styles from the Spectrum you use. There is a list of the eleven teaching styles
from the Spectrum below.

Remember that all teaching styles are
relevant. Sometimes you may only use one or two styles and sometimes you may
use a variety within each lesson. No particular style or cluster of styles is
more important than another – it depends on what you are trying to achieve.
Learning more about the Spectrum and become familiar with the differences
amongst them will help you to discover more for yourself as a coach.

If you are an equestrian
coach take the survey here

Discovering what coaches think about the
teaching styles that they use in their lessons is important for future coach
education. The Spectrum provides a comprehensive, logical and unique system for
studying teaching and learning that can benefit equestrian coaches.

Cristine Hall, from the University of Southern
Queensland, Toowoomba has designed a short set of questions in a survey that
may help you consider that you use right now. Your feedback about what you
believe you do is important and will contribute to ongoing research in coach
education.

The survey, apart from requesting some
background information, has only eleven questions. The questions ask how often
(if at all) you use each of the eleven teaching styles from the Spectrum in
your coaching. That’s only a one click response per question. You can have it
done in ten minutes! You might learn more about your own coaching from
considering them described in the survey.

1. Command

2. Practice

3. Reciprocal

4. Self-Check

5. Inclusion

6. Guided Discovery

7. Convergent

8. Divergent

9. Learner-Designed

10. Learner Initiated

11. Self-Teaching