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Title: Decision making by expert coaches : an investigation into apparently intuitive practice
Authors: Lyle, John William Baird
Issue Date: 1998
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Decision making by experts in dynamic, complex and interactive contexts is an apparently intuitive practice. The behaviour and the cognitive organisation, which it represents, is under-researched. Traditional decision theory is characterised by a laboratory-based experimental approach into static problem solving. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether existing theories of decision making could explain timeconstrained decision making in naturalistic settings. The context for the study is the decision making of volleyball coaches during games. The coaching process and the practice of sports coaches, although under-conceptualised and with few examples of comparable studies, represents a paradigm example of such non-deliberative behaviour. Given this background, the study was an exploratory one with potential implications for sports coaching education and for decision research in naturalistic settings. Self-reported accounts of decisions taken were generated by Stimulated Recall (SR) from a group of 12 expert volleyball coaches. The coaches were shown videotaped footage of competition matches and six decision incidents identified. They were asked to describe the decisions and the reasons why they were taken. The transcripts were coded and analysed for the extent to which they could be categorised according to existing models of decision making and the cognitive organisation on which they were based. The SR data were supplemented by semi-structured interviews. The methodology was essentially qualitative in nature. Although there were examples of Schema and Schema Script Model behaviours, the coaches' decision making was predominantly explained by an Interactive Script Model. Situation assessment, anticipatory modelling and an apparent desire to control decision making were important. The coaches' practice was less non-deliberative than expected. The Interactive Model is not one that has received any significant attention in the existing decision literature. In particular, the contested and serial nature of the task environment, and the limited number of action decisions available, appeared to playa significant part in constraining the coaches' decision making. The study concludes with a brief exploration of the emerging Naturalistic Decision Making movement. Although under-conceptualised at present, this would appear to have considerable potential for explaining decision making in such settings. A number of suggestion are made for enhancing decision making in the education and training of sports coaches.
Description: D.Ed Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

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