• Introduction
  • The reciprocal style (c)
  • Pros and cons of the reciprocal 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.


Mosston’s and Ashworth’s spectrum of teaching styles was first created as a guide for physical education teachers to ensure that each student learns the necessary skills, processes, and concepts ingrained in physical education. Mosston himself called it ”a framework of options in the relationships between teacher and learner”.

The spectrum of teaching styles offers eleven different teaching methods ranging from teacher-driven styles to more student-oriented learning. Each of these styles has its own specific characteristics and function when teaching a class that revolves around physical education.

This post explains the basic characteristics of the reciprocal style, and what makes it such an effective teaching style in the classroom. 

The reciprocal style (c)

The reciprocal style is the third teaching style in Mosston’s and Ashworth’s (1966) spectrum of teaching styles. It is characterized by social interactions, reciprocation, as well as giving and receiving immediate feedback according to the criteria given by the teacher. 

Here, all subject matter, logistical solutions, and criteria are created by the teacher. The teacher also participates in providing feedback for the learners. On the other hand, the students are responsible for working in pairs according to the criteria set by the teacher. One of the students is the doer and the other one is the observer. 




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)


The doer is responsible for making the same nine decisions as in the practice style as they try to perform a specific task as effectively as possible. These decisions are;

  1. Location
  2. Order of task
  3. Starting time for each task
  4. Pace and rhythm
  5. Stopping time
  6. Intervals
  7. Questions for clarification
  8. Attire and appearance
  9. Posture

The observer, on the other hand, is responsible for providing consistent feedback to the doer using the criteria set by the teacher.

After the first practice, the students switch roles. Hence the name, the reciprocal style. The biggest benefits of this are that in addition to practicing a new skill, the learners participate in social interaction with each other, learn to analyze what is needed to be successful at a task, and give immediate feedback.

Share this post

The Reciprocal Style

The teacher provides the challenge & feedback criteriaStudents work in pairsThe doer makes decisions on how to perform the task set by the teacherThe observer provides ongoing feedback to the doer according to the criteria

Pros and cons of the reciprocal style

The reciprocal style shifts the post-impact (after the exercise) decision-making from the teacher to another student, the observer. This provides a number of benefits for the entire group. First, each doer has their own observer, meaning that every student performing the task has a chance to receive immediate and ongoing feedback on their performance. The sooner the doers understand how they are performing, the greater their chances to learn the correct technique. 

Second, the observer must learn how to give constructive and useful feedback according to the criteria set by the teacher. Therefore, each observer must learn to analyze the performance against the task criteria and communicate the results in a constructive way. 

However, since the decision-making and feedback are deliberately shifted to the learner, both the teacher and the learners must understand the responsibility they take for the entire learning process. With this in mind, the reciprocal style often only works in groups where students feel comfortable and trusted. 

Final thoughts

The reciprocal style is one of the first steps into more student-driven lesson planning. Here, the teacher puts more emphasis on the interaction between students (since one is the doer and the other one is the observer) instead of the relationship between teacher and students. Organizing a lesson like this has a number of effects on the atmosphere and flow of the lesson. For example, the learners are not simply repeating a certain task over and over again, but rather guiding each other to improve their skills. 

One important thing to keep in mind is that the teacher should refrain from giving feedback to the doer, even if they see incorrect technique. Doing so, the teacher would undermine the observer’s role. Instead, the teacher should maintain the structure of the reciprocal style and not interfere with the social interaction between the doer and the observer. In a way, this requires the teacher to step back from the traditional teacher-driven lesson planning and let the learners work on their skills by themselves. 

Although this may be difficult for teachers who are used to being in control of the entire lesson, showing trust in the students can significantly increase their feelings of autonomy, relatedness, and competence – all of which are known to improve the intrinsic motivation of the learner. 

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


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

Join our growing list of subscribers!

Stay informed about the latest in sports science and physical performance. Subscribe to our mailing list for the latest updates, posts, products and much more.