Skiing - Perceptual Motor System

The Perceptual Motor System – How People Learn
Charlie Golson, PSIA Western, AL2, CS1, SS2, 70 years on snow, 8 years teaching
This article explains the use of the Perceptual Motor System (PMS) model as a learning / teaching
tool and how the various learning theories impact the model and instructor teaching.
The Perceptual Motor System servers as and is used as a good model to explain human learning.
The model shows how (1) sensory inputs are (2) interpreted and result in a (3) response action by
an individual. It is a simple model to understand and use in teaching.
By adding a fourth step to the model, “Reception”, the model can be used to understand and explain
how many of the learning theories, limit, amplify or filter the sensory input as it moves to reception
and then response. The new model can be used to tie the various learning theories together for
easier understanding by the instructor.
As we use the Perceptual Motor System model for teaching, consider some of the various theories
presented as information for Level 2 and how they impact the learning and teaching process.
First, the impact of Limiters: A limiter is some factor that will completely restrict one of the PMS
steps. For example, for a child, their sensory input may be limited (CAP model) by the fact that at
their age, their vision or auditory function are not developed. The input is limited due to this. Or
another example, taking a child again, if there is a sensory input and it proceeds along the PMS, the
child may not be able to respond correctly because their fine motor skills may not be developed.
The same holds true for Maslow’s Hierarchy. If you are trying to teach an adult and they are cold,
(physical needs in the hierarchy), then they are probably limited in how they receive their sensory
information (your teaching point) due to the fact that the physical need is not being met – they
cannot or are limited in their self-actualization (learning).
Second the impact of Learning Preferences. Again, if the individual likes concrete and practical
examples and the teaching is done with abstract concepts and generalizations, the reception and
further interpretation and resulting response will be impacted. Although this is more of a fuzzy
area, what a learning preferences for sensory inputs is important for learning and teaching.
Third, the impact of Learning Styles as amplifiers and filters for learning. Many of the learning
styles can be shown to be amplifiers or filters in the learning/ teaching process. For example, using
Gardner’s multiple intelligences, if an instructor teaches using a mathematical intelligence, and the
student is a music intelligence, then the reception of the input by the student will not be as strong as
if the instructor was teaching to a music intelligence style. The input would be filtered. On the
other hand, if the student’s Gardner’s multiple intelligence was kinesthetic, and the instructor
focused on this using this learning style in his teaching, then the input will probably be amplified for
the student.
As an instructor it is important to be familiar with the various learning style theories presented. They
form the knowledge base for instructors to teach as well as pass the level 2 exam. The most
common learning style theories are VAK - Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic model by Walter Barbe,
the WTFD - Watcher, Thinker, Feeler, Doer model by David Kalb, Gardner’s eight Multiple
Intelligences, the Motor Skill Acquisition model by Fitts and Posener, and finally a good
understanding adult learning styles. If an instructor is familiar with these and can discern the
preferred learning style of the student then the instructor can make the teaching/learning experience
more meaningful.
In summary, since most instructors are not trained psychologists or learning specialists, the learning
presentations should be balanced with auditory, visual and kinesthetic elements. Auditory
elements should be clear and succinct. Visual elements should include perfect demos – coming and
going from the students. And finally, kinesthetic elements should include having the student “feeling”
the movements being taught. Also remember that learning styles are important. Pick the right one
and the learning inputs may be amplified. Pick the wrong one and the learning inputs may be
See you on the slopes!
Additional information can be found at PSIA-W………….
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