The origin and role of non-literal language in expert golf instruction
St. Pierre, Peter Ernest
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The purpose of this study was to examine the origin and role of non-literal language used by expert golf instructors in their professional practice. Specifically, it identified the frequency of use, the purposes for presenting non-literal language to students, and when and how examples were derived. In addition, student understanding of the non-literal language presented by the instructors was also explored. Fourteen expert golf instructors participated in this study, and each was asked to recruit a student. The data were collected through videotaping, interview, and stimulated recall procedures. Frequency measures were calculated from the videotapes. Qualitative analysis was performed on all of the data collected using the constant comparative method in order to identify the dominant themes and commonalties that existed. The findings indicated that for these expert golf instructors, the use of non-literal language was an effective strategy to encourage student learning. Frequency measures suggested that presenting non-literal language to students was not a primary instructional behavior, but was a useful pedagogical tool for these teachers. Metaphors, similes, and analogies were presented to provide students with a mental picture, to express ideas that literal terms could not, to increase personal relevance, to make language more efficient, and to enhance student understanding. Each of these reasons for using non-literal language is consistent within a framework of characteristics of expert teachers, who display high levels of content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge. Specifically, these expert golf instructors have superior knowledge in their domain and derive an intimate understanding of their students' needs. With this knowledge they develop a variety of teaching strategies to meet their students' needs. Evidence of this is provided by the fact that these expert golf instructors also provided reasons not to use non-literal language. Further supporting this notion is evidence that a high percentage of the non-literal language presented during lessons was understood by the students in the way that the instructors intended. The exact origin of the non-literal language used by these instructors was difficult to ascertain, but most examples were borrowed from others in the sport of golf, and some were self-derived. Several issues arose during data collection and analysis regarding factors that may affect the use of non-literal language by expert golf instructors. The use of technology and physical teaching aids, along with student experience with the sport of golf may be changing the language patterns of expert golf instructors. Recommendations provided by this study include a call for further examination into factors that may affect the use of non-literal language during golf instruction.