• Introduction
  • The divergent discovery style (h)
  • Pros and cons of the divergent discovery style
  • Final thoughts
  • Sources
  • Pre-impact set: a set of educational decisions that define the intent of the lesson. Includes planning, preparation, organizing, etc.
  • Impact set: a set of actions made during the lesson and one-on-one feedback. The implementation of the pre-impact decisions in the actual lesson.
  • Post-impact set: the assessment made after the lesson. Evaluating the goal and the outcome.


The spectrum of teaching styles was first developed in 1966 by an Israeli sports scientist named Muska Mosston. The spectrum was initially designed to be used as a framework for physical education teachers  to make sure that each lesson catered to the students’ individual needs. With these teaching styles, teachers were able to help students learn all the necessary skills, concepts, and processes ingrained in physical education. Mosston himself described the spectrum as “a framework of options in the relationships between teacher and learner”.

The spectrum of teaching styles is a combination of eleven distinct teaching methods. These styles range from teacher-led organizational styles to more student-centered techniques. All of the styles in this spectrum has its own characteristics, strengths, and purposes in teaching physical education.

This post concentrates on the divergent discovery style, and what makes it such an interesting teaching choice in sports education.

The divergent discovery style (h)

The divergent discovery style is characterized by creating multiple responses to a single problem or situation. After being confronted with a problem, the learner must use their cognitive abilities to discover the alternative possibilities existing in the content matter. Thus, expanding the possibilities of the subject using problem-solving skills and imagination.

On the other hand, the teacher’s role is to choose the subject matter and how to implement it. For example, the teacher designs a single question about the subject matter’s target concept. The question could be ”how can we climb this route most efficiently?” Thus, shifting the focus from the teacher to the learner.




Pre-impact set:
(decisions that define the intent – specific planning & preparation of the lesson)


Impact set:
(decisions related to the implementation of the lesson plan & face-to-face interaction)


Post-impact set:
(decisions concerning assessment after the lesson)


In a way, the teacher simply sets the scene for learning to occur and observes the situation as it unfolds. This can be anything from climbing a route (as mentioned above), creating a new choreography, or a strategy in a team sport.

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The Divergent Discovery Style (h)

The learner discovers multiple answers to the same problemThe learner analyzes which responses were the most successfulThe teacher makes decisions regarding the responsesThe teacher accepts the response if it is valid

Pros and cons of the divergent discovery style

The divergent discovery style offers a wide variety of educational benefits. Aside from improving cognitive skills such as problem-solving and imagination, it forces the learner to analyze and compare different outcomes. On a social level, producing multiple alternative ideas can reduce the learner’s participation threshold. Thus, more shy learners may feel emotionally and socially safe enough to participate in the problem-solving process. This often results in an increased motivation in sharing their own ideas. Additionally, this teaches other learners to tolerate everyone’s ideas and their individual approach to creating solutions. 

From a physical education standpoint, the divergent discovery style offers nearly endless possibilities. After all, so does the human movement. With this in mind, physical movement easily lends itself to designing programs, routines and strategies. Designing movements in physical activities also offers a possibility to explore one’s limits and even surpass them. On top of that, new ideas can even innovate the sport itself!

However, the divergent discovery style is not without its disadvantages. First, the students have to be motivated with the subject to have a meaningful impact. Second, the teacher must ensure that the groups consist of individuals that are able to work well together. Otherwise, the group will not feel safe, or connected to the subject.

Final thoughts

The divergent discovery style represents another step towards a more learner-oriented teaching style. When compared to the convergent discovery style, where the learner needs to find the correct solution to a problem, divergent discovery allows the learner to come up with multiple solutions to a single problem. This allows for more imagination and invites the learner to analyze which solutions work better than others. 

Some sports are also intrinsically reliant on problem-solving in order to be successful. For example, climbers often try to figure out the most efficient way to climb a route even though there may be multiple ways to do so. Thus, the wall itself becomes the problem that they try to solve. 

Did you learn anything new about the divergent discovery style? Let us know in the comments.


  • Mosston, M. & Ashworth, S. (2008) Teaching Physical Education. 1st Online Edition.

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