• Introduction
  • The basics of the learner-initiated style (j)
  • Pros and cons of the learner-initiated 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 put together by an Israeli sports scientist named Muska Mosston in 1966. The spectrum itself was meant to be used as a guide for physical education teachers to make sure that lessons catered to each students’ individual needs. Thus, helping pupils learn the necessary skills, concepts, and processes ingrained in physical education. Mosston himself defined the spectrum as “a framework of options in the relationships between teacher and learner”.

The spectrum of teaching styles consists of 11 teaching methods, ranging from teacher-commanded techniques to more student-led methods. All of these styles has its own distinct characteristics, strengths, and functions in physical education.

This post sheds light on the learner-initiated style, and why it is considered such a powerful method in sports education.

The basics of the learner-initiated style (j)

The learner-initiated style is characterized by shifting the learner’s initiation, responsibility, and learning experience from the teacher to the learner. Here, the learner’s responsibility is to independently initiate their own learning experience by deciding the learning intent, objectives, the logistics, procedures, and assessment criteria. During this process, the learner also keeps the teacher updated on what decisions are made.

The teacher’s role is to ask clarifying questions about the learner’s intentions and overall plan. The idea behind this is that the learner examines and reinforces the decisions that they have made. Once this has been done, the teacher accepts the learner’s plan and sends them on their way. Not only does this show trust in the learner’s independence, it also shows that the teacher is ready to support and participates in the learning experience if needed.




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)


A simple example of the learner-initiated style is when a small group of students come to the teacher and ask for help creating a volleyball training plan. The students have an idea what aspects of the game they want to develop, but they want some help creating a balanced program. The teacher then asks clarifying questions about their initial plan. Thus, either reinforcing their thought process or making them notice the pitfalls in their idea. 

Once the students have come to a conclusion, they inform the teacher, who accepts their training plan. After this, the teacher may offer the equipment and facilities to train in. In this case, the teacher has become a supporter, facilitator, and a resource of information. 

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The Learner-Initiated Style (j)

The learner decides what to learn and how to do itThe learner designs a program and decides how performance is evaluatedThe learner decides how to involve the teacherThe teacher provides general conditions for the planThe teacher accepts the learner's plan and initiates the learning experienceThe teacher alerts the learner of any contradictions between intent and action

Pros and cons of the learner-initiated style 

The biggest benefit of the learner-initiated teaching style is that it acknowledges the learner’s motivation and will to create their own learning experience. Thus, the style heavily relies on the learner’s independence as it provides an opportunity to observe the entire process of the learning situation (pre-impact, impact, and post-impact stages). For the learner, this offers a chance to take responsibility in creating a training plan for a subject of their choosing. 

From the teacher’s side, the learner-initiated style shows trust in the learner’s ability to challenge themselves and take responsibility of their own learning experience. Since the role of the teacher is to support, mentor, and provide feedback, the teacher is able to provide a certain level of security in the learning environment. Thus, if the learner needs anything, they always have someone to ask for help. 

However, it is important to remember that this style often only works in an individual or small group setting. Otherwise there might be too much stimuli from other classmates to fully concentrate on designing their own program. Furthermore, the learner may incorporate other learners’ ideas into their own plan, which can cause discrepancies between their action and intent.

Final thoughts

Although the learner-initiates style is considered a student-centered teaching style, using this method relies heavily on the teacher. This is because the teacher must decide how much of their authority and power they share with their students. Putting the learners at the center of their own learning process requires trust, independence, and knowledge of the subject matter.

To support the intrinsic motivation of the learner, the skill or concept must be relevant to them while providing enough challenge for their current skill level. So, instead of just learning skills because it is in the curriculum, the learners must understand the real value of the task at hand. 

It is understandable that a teacher feels weary of losing control in a teaching scenario such as this. However, letting the learners choose the content and the methods allows their interests to drive the learning situation. It is also important to remember that students have already accumulated years of learning experience that that can take advantage of. This feeling of autonomy is yet another way to improve the learner’s motivation.

Did you learn anything new about the learner-initiated style? Let us know in the comments.


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

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