• Introduction
  • The learner-designed individual program (i)
  • Pros and cons of the learner-designed individual program
  • 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 created by an Israelian sports scientist named Muska Mosston in 1966. This spectrum was meant to be used as a framework for physical education teachers. Thus, making sure that each lesson catered to the students’ individual needs, and help them learn all the necessary concepts, skills, and processes seen 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 consists of eleven distinct teaching methods, ranging from teacher-focused methods to more student-centered techniques. All of these styles has its own characteristics, strengths, and purposes in physical education.

This post concentrates on the learner-designed individual program style, and why it is considered such an effective method when teaching sports.

The learner-designed individual program (i)

The learner-designed individual program is characterized by offering more independence to the learner to discover a new skill, subject matter, etc. The role of the learner is to make all decisions regarding the subject matter. This means choosing the subject that needs to be learned, designing specific questions that guide the learner towards the goal, to perform the tasks and discover the solutions or movements needed, and create the criteria for successful performance. Once the predetermined response, behavior, or skill has been reached, the program can be considered successful. 

On the other hand, the teacher has two roles in this style. First, they must explain the expectations for the learner (new degree of freedom means more responsibility). Second, the teacher must create a broad framework in which the learners must work in. For example, the subject matter of the lesson is football (chosen by the teacher), and the learner chooses knuckleball free kicks as their goal.

Here, the teacher’s responsibility is to observe and guide the learner towards their goal with questions or clues. The teacher can also help make sure the overall program is well-designed and has the right amount of challenge. 




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 short, the learner first discovers and designs questions or problems and then tries seeks the right solutions for them. However, keep in mind that this does not often happen in a single lesson. This is why the learner-designed program should have a long-term goal that supports their own needs. Only then is the learner able to design, sequence, and link the different steps of the program together. 

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The Learner-Designed Individual Program (h)

The learner selects the topic they want to studyThe learner identifies the questions that need to be solvedThe learner creates a plan of action with the available informationThe teacher observes the learning process and provides answers when needed

Pros and cons of the learner-designed individual program

One of the biggest benefits of the learner-designed individual program is that it challenges the learner’s physical and cognitive abilities. After all, the learner must have a good understanding of their current skill level, and what their future goal is. Only then will the learners be able to start designing the actual program. 

Additionally, the learner-designed individual program always revolves around the learner, meaning that they must design both the question and the solution. The teacher is there only to observe, guide, and guide them towards the correct solution. Ultimately, this style provides an atmosphere that promotes autonomy, competence, and relatedness. All of which are important components in building intrinsic motivation.

Although individual programs have lots of benefits, they are highly individualistic, and may not work for all learners. Additionally, the learners must have prior experience with the subject in order to create a feasible program. Lastly, the individual program style is also time-consuming (thinking, experimenting, performing, recording, etc.), which can reduce physical activity during a lesson.

Final thoughts

The learner-designed individual program style shifts even more decision-making to the learners themselves. Thus, effectively making the teacher more of a facilitator for learning to occur. After all, their main role is not about leading the lesson, but rather help each learner to find the best solutions for themselves.

However, this does not mean that the learner-designed individual program is lacking in structure – in fact, it is quite the opposite. The learner-designed individual program is highly structured. This is because it is meant to develop the learner’s cognitive and creative capacity, as well as discipline to train according to the program. Thus, it is a systematic approach to find relationships between various components of physical performance, the learner’s own ability, and their goal. The learner-initiated style is what enables the learner to find these solutions in a structured way. 

Although this style is very focused and structured, it can still be changed according to new ideas, discoveries, or goals. These aforementioned factors help create a sense of autonomy, relatedness, and competence. All of which are crucial in improving the learners intrinsic motivation. 

Did you learn anything new about the learner-designed individual program? Let us know in the comments.


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

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