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Integrating Learning Theories to Teach the Outrigger Stroke
Tina Indalecio
California State University Monterey Bay

IST520 Learning Theory
Professor Lockwood
February 24, 2015

Integrating Learning Theories to Teach the Outrigger Stroke
The goal of good instructional design is to create efficient and effective learning
programs. In many cases a one theory or one model approach is not appropriate for the learner.
The learning theories employed by athletic coaches vary and the coach is tasked with needing to
deal with both in-class and field oriented learning environments. Therefore being able to
combine elements from various learning theories and instructional models, will be more
beneficial to the learner and will help achieve the desired learning outcomes.
Teaching Situation
Each year the Kai Elua Outrigger Canoe Club runs a youth (keiki) paddling program.
There are two program seasons, a recreational season, which runs from October to February and
the regular race reason that runs from March to July. All children ages 10 to 19 are welcome to
join the program regardless of skill or fitness level. The program curriculum covers outrigger
paddling techniques and fundamentals, equipment care and maintenance, teamwork skills,
Hawaiian culture, ocean awareness and safety, and respect for the ocean, environment and others.
Regardless of season, the curriculum is the same and always begins with introducing the learners
to the basics of the outrigger stroke.
Practices are run weekly and currently there is not a formal instructional process to
follow. Typically the learners are given a brief demonstration on the beach, placed in the canoe
and asked to paddle. This current process makes it difficult to teach and correct stroke issues.
The purpose of this instruction is to create a formal training process for the program that helps
increase learner knowledge of the stroke as well as how to execute it properly on the water, in a
canoe with other paddlers. While executing the stroke properly is key to moving the canoe in an

efficient manner, understanding why and how the proper technique creates efficiency is also
important. This link has been missing and as a result impedes rather than speeds mastering the
Creating the instructional program, regarding stroke technique and efficiency should not
take longer than a few weeks, and implementation can occur immediately. Evaluation will occur
throughout the season at weekly practices as well as online.
While the entire program has many learning components, the goal of this instruction is to
teach the learners (the Kai Elua Keiki Team) the basics of the outrigger stroke technique, the
importance of stroke efficiency, and how to apply it on the water while in a six-man canoe.
Analysis of Applicable Learning Theories
In this case, the role of the coach is to be the subject matter expert in paddling. The coach
is in charge of creating, delivering and evaluating all instruction and athlete performance.
According to Fazel (2013) “The athletic coach is often seen as an expert who guides and directs
the behavior of individuals or teams based on his or her greater experience and knowledge” (p.
1072). According to Steel, Harris, Baxter, and King (2013), coaches tend to base their coaching
methods on personal experience as an athlete or on their intuition, rather than employing a
combination of evidence-based methods.
In order to effectively teach the keikis how to execute the outrigger stroke, a combination
of learning theories and methods need to be applied. The process will include reinforcement
theory, self-efficacy theory, social learning theory, and experiential learning theory. In addition,
Gagne’s nine events of instruction and Marzanos’s homework and practice strategies will be

Skinner claimed that behavior is a function of consequences. He believed an individual
would repeat a behavior if the reinforcement was positive (Fazel, 2013). The goal is to encourage
good behavior and performance from the athletes. Therefore, the coach will attempt to provide
positive verbal feedback, cues and rewards on a regular basis.
In addition, paddling can be intimidating to some and it is important for the coach to
foster a learning environment that promotes an increase in self-efficacy beliefs within each
athlete. Bandura’s self-efficacy theory is based on what a person thinks they can do, not on what
they have done (Bandura, 1990). According to Feltz and Lirgg (2001), “Persuasive techniques
are widely used by coaches, managers, parents, and peers in attempting to influence an athlete’s
self-perceptions of efficacy” (p. 3). They can do this with constructive feedback, verbal
encouragement and cognitive strategies to engage the learner and encourage them to try an
Situational learning is derived from social learning theory that focuses on learning
through participation (Light, 2011). Light (2011) states that “learning is a social process situated
within particular sociocultural contexts that shape learning through participation in its practices”
(p. 373). However, situational learning is more than just participating in the sport. Learning is
social and involves the learner interacting with others (Kirk, 2003). For example, the athlete
engages socially with other athletes and within the community. In this case they engage with and
become a part of the larger paddling ohana (family). They will become not just a part of the sport
but a part of the community of the sport.
According to Kros and Watson (2004), “experiential learning is a process through which
knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” (p. 283). Experiential learning
helps draw the connection between knowledge and practical application in the real world.

According to Bower (2013), Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory was an effective method of
instruction when teaching individuals how to participate in a golf scramble. Kolb’s theory
includes the learner passing through four phases, they can begin at any stage but must go through
them sequentially. The phases include: concrete experience (do), reflective observation
(observe), abstract conceptualization (think) and active experimentation (plan). Schellhase
(2006) states, “A person passes through these modes repeatedly in a way that helps them learn
from the past and take new information into future learning situations” (p. 20). Mastering the
outrigger stroke is a life long process. The learner will always need to work on maintaining and
fixing proper stroke technique.
Nash, Sproule and Horton (2008) state, “A coaching setting that offers a supportive
learning environment, appropriate levels of challenge for both the coach and the participants, and
that engenders a passion for the sport can produce a positive and productive sporting outcome”
(p. 540). Continually providing positive reinforcement to help increase self-efficacy, as well as
strategies to engage the learner in social and experiential learning, will be key to the success of
the program.
Application and Instruction
The goal is to teach the learners the basics of the outrigger stroke technique and how to
apply it on the water, while in a six-man canoe. The learning environment is online, at home, on
the beach and on the water. The instructional materials will include a series of video tutorials and
online learning modules that explain the stroke components, technique and efficiency, as well as,
parts of the canoe, duties of each seat, and the different types of outrigger paddles and their uses.
Quizzes will be built into each eLearning module to test how well the learner understands why
and how proper stroke technique leads to paddling efficiency.

In addition a downloadable course manual that illustrates the stroke, parts of the canoe
and types of outrigger paddles will be available for the learner to reference for future use. There
are no required materials that need to be developed for the in-person instruction because the
coaches are subject matter experts in paddling. All in-person instruction and coaching takes place
on the beach and on the water. The learner only needs access to a computer and internet to
review the eLearning modules, and to a paddle and the canoe to practice the stroke.
Some of the instructional materials that will be created include:

A series of videos illustrating the proper technique for each stroke component.

eLearning modules that cover the parts of the canoe, each seat’s role, and the different
types of paddles.

An electronic paddlers manual with text and visuals related to the eLearning and
video modules.

In addition the lessons will include:

On the beach demonstrations

Standing in the water, waist deep and executing the stroke dynamics

Executing the stroke in the canoe

Time trials and mock races to evaluate stroke technique

Video filming on the water to assess, and correct stroke issues as they arise

This instruction will use a combination of learning methods that include:

Lecture on the beach and water
Audio-Visual aids such as videos and job aids / exercise sheets
Demonstrations by the coaches and paddlers
Practice by doing by all learners
Immediate Use of Learning

In addition, examples of additional theories used will be Gagne’s, stimulate recall of prior
learning and Marzanos’s homework and practice. For example, there are several parts of the
outrigger stroke, however one of the key elements to executing the proper technique is to not
bend the bottom arm when rotating through the stroke. One way to get the learners to remember
this is to use the Frankenstein/Choo-Choo train method.
The coach asks the learner to give their best Frankenstein impression and then asks them
what they noticed about their arms. They show that their arms are fully extended out and straight,
and that is how Frankenstein keeps them. Then the instructor asks them to give their best choochoo train impression and typically the learners’ arms start rotating in a pulling motion. The
instructor points out that the train motion bends the arms and chugs through the water. Once the
learners have a firm grasp of the visual, they are reminded to do the Frankenstein in the canoe
and not the choo-choo train. This helps reinforce keeping the bottom arm strait while they rotate
and not move in a rocking/pulling manner.
With regards to homework and practice, the learner is asked to review a series of videos
on proper technique, to take notes on each component of the stroke, bring their notes to practice
and give their best effort to explain what they learned as well as demonstrate the technique that
they viewed. There are different rewards for participation and all learners will receive positive
feedback on what they did correctly and also tips to improve where they did not execute the
stroke properly. The learners will see and experience over time, through experiential learning,
that they can learn to paddle efficiently. As they engage in mock races, time trials and general
practices their self-efficacy should improve as they begin to realize they can do it. Once they
begin to master the skill to paddle efficiently on their own, their self-efficacy beliefs should

increase as well, however if they are feeling that they are not improving their self-efficacy beliefs
would decrease (Bandura, 1997).
Evaluations will include formative and summative evaluations. For example, the learners
will be asked to identify the appropriate type of paddle to use for the exercise. The differences of
each paddle, and their specific uses, will be detailed in a handout, in an online learning module,
and then explained by the coach at practice. The learners must then select the appropriate
standard paddle from a mixture of standard and steering paddles laid out on the beach. In
addition after each informational eLearning segment the learner will be required to take a short
quiz to test their knowledge. The purpose is to ensure the learner does not only learn how to
select the appropriate paddle and how to perform the proper stroke technique, but why they need
to and how it impacts their overall efficiency in the canoe as a paddler.
The conditions for the online portion of this instruction can take place in any location or
environment as long as there is access to a computer and the internet. For all in-person
evaluations the conditions must be calm weather, wind and water. The learner will be assessed
over a period of 4 to 5 months depending on which season they are participating in, recreation or
race season. Every practice will include evaluation and feedback for the learner. Data will be
collected via stopwatch, physical observation, note taking and video. The coaches will review all
data and then feedback will be given to the learner to help increase proficiency of technique. For
the online modules, all data will be collected via quiz assessments and verification that each
module was opened and viewed by the learner.
To help reinforce the learner’s knowledge on the different types of paddles there will be a
matching task in an eLearning module, a selection assessment on the beach as well as a

downloadable page in the paddler’s manual that shows each type of paddle, that they can refer to
as needed.
The primary summative assessments will require the learner to perform the outrigger
stroke as well as two time trials. As stated previously after viewing all eLearning modules and
in-person demonstrations, the learner will demonstrate how to perform the outrigger stroke. In
addition they will be required to participate in a time trial at the beginning of the season as well
as at the end of the season. Both events will require the learner to paddle a canoe, with proper
stroke technique over a distance of one mile in similar water and weather conditions. The two
times will be reviewed to gauge how much efficiency was gained over the duration of the season.
The coach will provide guidance and correction as needed to assist in perfecting the stroke
technique and efficiency.
In addition, the learner will be required to demonstrate their understanding of why and
how technique makes a difference in efficiency, by taking a series of short quizzes after each
section of information in the eLearning modules and by explaining it to the coaches and other
learners at practice.
Description of Learners
The current learners (keiki) are those who are new to the sport of outrigger; in addition,
based on an informal poll during the first practice, 95 percent of them have never participated in
a water sport before. There are approximately 30 new keiki paddlers that need instruction. In
order to learn how to paddle and move the canoe properly, training is needed to teach the
elements of the stroke. A comparative need exists to teach the correct stroke technique in order to
compete against other keiki teams at a competitive level. Many of the other teams have
experienced keiki paddlers, who regularly compete in local, national and international races. In

addition, as a coach, there is a felt need that exists to improve the team’s stroke efficiency and
technique, for both performance reasons and safety reasons.
Of the twenty-seven outrigger canoe clubs, in the Southern California Racing Association
(SCORA), sixteen have competitive keiki programs. The individual club determines training and
coaching programs, and each club is required by SCORA to ensure all paddlers are prepared to
race, understand race rules and have general water safety awareness training. The keiki do not
come to the program with these skills and must learn them through instruction and applied
Currently the keiki are not familiar with the basic stroke technique, the performance gap
is large, but can be corrected to provide general knowledge and understanding, with proper
instruction. Mastering the stroke technique will not be possible with instruction alone, applied
practice and modification of technique based on the type of canoe will be necessary. However
the purpose of this instruction is to teach the basics only.
Based on an informal survey of the current learners, they consist of children aged 10 to
17 years old. They come from diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds. This demographic will
not vary significantly from season to season. With the current group of learners, approximately
70 percent of them engage in other sports, however only five percent have in the past or currently
do other water sports. 95 percent of them have never paddled in an outrigger canoe before. The
group is comprised of 60 percent males and 40 percent females. There are two children with
learning disabilities. Many of them are highly motivated to learn how to paddle, while a small
percent of them have been “encouraged” by their parents to engage in a sport activity. There are
no known health issues, other than asthma. There are no children with physical and/or cognitive
limitations that would prevent them from engaging in the sport.

Possible Limitations and Constraints
The learner will need access to the Internet, and transportation to practices. Poor weather
and/or poor attendance can impact field based instruction time, because without actual
application of the stroke on the water, the training will not be as effective. However, it is not
often that weather is an issue and the impact is minimal requiring only a few cancelled practices
each year. In addition, historically, most of the learners attend all practices. Access to canoes
could also inhibit instruction, but every attempt will be made to coordinate practice times with
the other coaches and programs to eliminate that concern.
One issue to consider is that when instilling a more structured stroke training practice for
race competition, it may result in keiki leaving the program. Meaning some keiki may opt to not
compete because they are looking for more of a recreational sport and not a regular team sport.
However, that is not a deterrent to implementing the instruction because both recreational and
competitive paddlers will benefit from the instruction.
Keeping the group motivated, engaged and focused will be a challenge. They will need
constant stimulation and breaks in learning to hold their attention. However by teaching them
new skills, giving positive reinforcement, breaking up instruction with fun team-building
activities, and giving them jobs such as water safety captain, maintenance captain, steersman,
etc. provides variety in the instruction time, as well as helps create a level of accountability for
each learner and builds confidence as well as self-efficacy as they learn more about paddling.
Total costs will be minimal, due to current skill set of the coaches and because no projects
will need to be outsourced to contractors. Volunteers do all coaching and the coaches are
responsible for creating and providing all learning materials.

In order to have positive learning outcomes, it will be necessary to create a supportive
and challenging environment for the learner. It will be important for the coach to employ a
variety of evidence-based learning theories, and not rely on personal athlete experience and
intuition only. Working to promote self-efficacy beliefs of the learner will be instrumental in
motivation the learner to engage and continue in the sport.

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