An Investigation of Nonlinear Pedagogy and Its Application in Singapore Schools

Project Number
OER 15/09 CJY

Project Duration
September 2009 - August 2014


Recently, there has been significant interest in investigating learning and teaching within Physical Education (PE), where a games teaching approach has been adopted to facilitate learning situated in practice games (Kirk & MacPhail, 2002). In its recent PE syllabus, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has provided a clear emphasis on teaching of game skills using a Games Concept Approach (MOE Syllabus 2006). However, processes underlying perceived effectiveness of using games to teach tactics and technical skills to students is not clearly understood (Chow et al., 2007). Recent developments in human movement sciences provide some impetus to explore pedagogical relevance of adopting a nonlinear dynamics approach to understanding teaching and learning in games. Nonlinear pedagogy is predicated on concepts from nonlinear dynamics and ecological psychology, suggesting that learning results from a confluence of interacting constraints in learning contexts (Chow et al., 2006, Davids, et al., 2008). It has been established that the dynamic interactions among task, performer and environmental constraints can guide learners to acquire functional goal-directed behaviours in a learning context (Newell, 1996). The search for functional movement behaviours is guided by manipulation of constraints, considered as boundaries to guide learners in exploring functional, task-appropriate movement behaviours. Movement variability helps learners to couple perception and action during this search process. It is regarded as fundamentally important to encourage exploratory behaviours and not to be viewed as noise in movement behaviour (Davids et al., 2008). Nonlinear Pedagogy provides a substantial theoretical platform to investigate how instructions, feedback and practices can be delivered and organised in physical education to enhance learning and increase level of physical activity. For this programme of work, an initial in-depth analysis will be undertaken to establish the learning effectiveness of key concepts in nonlinear pedagogy, using a soccer kicking task framed within a game setting. Underlying processes of games teaching will be specifically examined to determine the practical implications of a nonlinear pedagogical approach in school contexts (Chow et al., 2007). School based empirical investigations will next be adopted to examine how Nonlinear Pedagogy can be infused in the GCA teaching approach to enable students to better acquire both technical and tactical skills in the schools. Motivational benefits for improving self-esteem in relation to learning from a Nonlinear Pedagogical approach will also be investigated.

Research Themes

Funding Source

Related Links
NIE Research Brief 14-004 Series: An Investigation of Nonlinear Pedagogy and its Application in Singapore Schools
ReEd Vol 15: Facilitating Flexible Learning

Related Projects