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The role of nonlinear pedagogy in physical education
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Chow, J. Y., Davids, K., Button, C., Shuttleworth, R., Renshaw, I., & Araújo, D. (2007). The role of nonlinear pedagogy in physical education. Review of Educational Research, 77(3), 251-278.
In physical education, the Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU) pedagogical strategy has attracted significant attention from theoreticians and educators alike because it allows the development of game education through a tactic-to-skill approach based on the use of modified games. However, it has been argued that, as an educational framework, it currently lacks adequate theoretical grounding from motor learning perspectives to empirically augment its’ perceived effectiveness by educators. In this paper we examine the literature providing the theoretical underpinning for TGfU and explore the potential of a nonlinear pedagogical framework, based on Dynamical Systems Theory, as a suitable explanation for TGfU’s effectiveness as a strategy in physical education teaching. The basis of nonlinear pedagogy involves the manipulation of key task constraints on learners to facilitate the emergence of functional movement and decision-making behaviors. We explain how interpretation of motor learning processes from a nonlinear pedagogical framework can underpin educational principles of TGfU and provide a theoretical rationale for guiding implementation of learning progressions in physical education.
This is the final draft, after peer-review, of a manuscript published in Review of Educational Research. The published version is available online at
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