The area of performance psychology is a relatively new field which has started to gain prominence since branching off from the field of sports psychology. Performance psychology is the study and application of psychological principles of human performance to help people consistently perform in the upper range of their capabilities and have a greater understanding of themselves in the performance process. It also investigates ways to improve positive performance environments, while also further reducing any inhibiting factors, such as negative, cognitive, emotional, and behavioural responses that limit optimal performances. Performance psychology can help individuals, teams, and organisations to reach peak performance and maintain high standards.
While the field is relatively new and still evolving, I think there is evidence to suggest that some types of performance psychology have existed for thousands of years. Much has been written about Sun Tzu, an ancient Chinese warrior from nearly 2,500 years ago. Sun Tzu wrote a book titled ‘The Art of War’, which identifies a general blue print of how to be successful in the theatre of war. In particular, it highlights how to lead and command soldiers. Sun Tzu does not provide a step by-step formulae on how to carry out a war. Instead he provides subtle hints on what should be done and what should be avoided, leaving much of the details to the creativity of the reader. Sun Tzu advocates flexibility rather than relying on fixed methods. The work of Sun Tzu has recently been applied to modern military, business, and even sporting teams trying to get an advantage over competitors.
In performance psychology, it is important to develop specific goals, a detailed plan how to carry them out, a comprehensive level of self-knowledge in relation to performance including knowing about inhibiting factors to performance, while also identifying what personal and physical resources you have at your disposal. Execute the task and establish measures for effective feedback. In relation to teaching this would include knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are. What are the key indicators for successful teaching in your context. What are the environmental factors that will support quality performance. What are the red flags that may inhibit quality performance or teaching?
Similar to Sun Tzu’s blue print for success prominent Australian Performance Psychologist Dr Phil Jauncey (1996) identifies contributing factors to success including What, How, Resources and Want. These things can formulate a basic blueprint or framework on how to be successful. I will apply these to an educative context to improve the reading ability of a group of students.
What- You need very detailed goals of what you are going to improve and by how much within what time frame. You would also require detailed knowledge of your students, their strengths and abilities, motivations etc. You would need to have an adequate understanding of yourself in the performance context and be aware of what your signature strengths are. What similar successes have you had and how can you build on them. You would also look to identify optimal performance environments and inhibiting factors that reduce performance.
How- This about having a detailed plan of how you are going to carry out your goal and assess it. In relation to reading this would include looking at your pedagogical practices in relation to reading. What strategies are you going to use, how are you going to implement these strategies, how often and when etc.
Resources- This is about looking at the resources you have at your disposal, including the abilities of the people involved, physical and financial resources. In relation to reading, what reading measures have you used to understand your students, what books, and programs do you have, how much time do you allocated to achieving this goal, and who are the key people involved in working with students. Quality teacher instruction is one of the biggest indicators for student improvement.
Want- I will put this simply some people succeed because they want it more and they are willing to sacrifice more to achieve it.
References Jauncey, P., (1996). Understanding ourselves and others. Brisbane: Copyright Publishing.
Hello fellow Educators,
My name is CJ Bradley and I am a passionate educator who works in Queensland Australia. My background is that I have worked as a Teacher, Guidance Counsellor, School Principal. I am currently working as an Assistant Principal in a large Secondary College.