Suggested Class Project Assignments

Project 1: Social-Reinforcement Field Observation

Project 1 provides experience in these areas: (a) observing instruction of a group’s physical activity and then coding an instructor’s behavior using the Coaching Behavior Assessment System (CBAS); (b) describing and evaluating the instructor’s behavior; and (c) integrating and applying your knowledge of sport and exercise psychology to a practical setting. Specifically, this project consists of an observation-coding session and a written paper, as follows.

Field Observation and Coding Session

 Select a physical activity instructor (teacher, coach, fitness leader, or athletic trainer) to observe working in a group setting (the instructor should be working with four or more individuals during your observation period). Explain to the instructor that you must observe a group or a team for a university class you’re taking. Arrange with the instructor a date and time to observe an entire activity session. During this session, you’ll code the instructor’s behavior for at least 25 minutes.

Become very familiar with the CBAS before attending your observation session! At the session, review the categories before you attempt to code behavior. Try to get a feel for the behaviors before you begin your coding. Position yourself so you can both see and hear instructor.

Use the CBAS coding sheet (also see p. 207 of the textbook) to record the instructor’s behavior toward the individuals she or he is working with.

For each behavior, place a mark next to the appropriate category.

Behavioral Categories

Become familiar with each category so that you recognize the behavior and immediately code it. If you deliberate too long, you may lose track of other behaviors. Code these categories:

  • Specific positive reinforcement: when an instructor positively reinforces a single player or student
  • General positive reinforcement: when an instructor positively reinforces the team or class
  • Specific negative reinforcement: when an instructor negatively reinforces a single player or student
  • General negative reinforcement: when an instructor negatively reinforces a team or class
  • Specific technical instruction: when an instructor instructs a player or student
  • General technical instruction: when an instructor instructs the team or class
  • Keeping control: when an instructor has to correct misbehavior or other breaches of discipline, other than class- or game-related behaviors
  • Organization: when an instructor instructs players or students concerning organizational chores (e.g., pick up bats or take a particular formation)

After you have completed your observation session, tally the totals in each of the categories. Record each category total as well as the grand total. Use these totals to determine the percentages for each behavioral category. Turn in your recording sheet with your paper.

The Paper

Based on your observation and what you have learned about reinforcement principles, write a seven to eight -page paper, typing double-spaced pages with 1-inch margins. Include the following four sections in your paper:

An introductory paragraph describing the situation, activity, age group, skill or ability level, and any other pertinent circumstances of the instructional environment you observed.

Discussion of the types and frequencies of responses given by the instructor toward the participants’ behaviors; use your discretion in organizing this portion, but the discussion should be clear and should be based on the data you obtained (i.e., I should know what the instructor was like without looking at the coding sheet). In writing up your discussion, consider these questions:

  • What behaviors did you observe most frequently? Why?
  • What were the least frequent behaviors? Why?
  • Based on the activity-level index, was this instructor effective?
  • What was the ratio of positive to negative reinforcements?
  • What was the ratio of specific to general reinforcements?
  • You might choose to add many other comparisons and questions. Be sure to support all of your points with data from your observations (in percentages).

Recommendations regarding the instructor’s reinforcement behaviors; given your knowledge of sport and exercise psychology and your professional knowledge, what would you tell this instructor about his or her style of offering feedback?

A summary paragraph that ties the whole paper together.


This project is worth 25% of your grade and will be evaluated according to the following criteria: Criteria                                             Weight

Content                                20 points

Organization and clarity       5 points Total 25 points

* Recall that half a letter grade will be deducted for each day an assignment is late!

  • Use the Social-Reinforcement Field Observation Data Sheet.pdf available on BlackBoard. Determine the following ratios:
    • Total number of behaviors: total number of minutes observed =
    • Number of positive reinforcements: number of negative reinforcements =
    • Number of specific positive reinforcements: number of specific negative reinforcements =
    • Number of specific positive reinforcements: number of general negative reinforcements =
    • Number of specific technical reinforcements: number of general technical reinforcements

The scale you’ll be using is loosely based on the Smith and Smoll CBAS, but instead of 12 categories, it has only 8 categories.

Project 2: Applying Sport and Exercise Psychology Principles

Project 2 gives you experience applying your knowledge of sport and exercise psychology to a practical setting.

Choosing Your Problem or Situation

 Select a problem or situation you have observed in a physical activity setting that could be prevented or ameliorated (improved upon) using the principles you have learned in sport and exercise psychology. Please limit your selection of problems or situations to the following areas:

  • Teamwork or cohesion (chapter 8)
  • Arousal regulation (chapter 12)
  • Imagery (chapter 13)
  • Self-confidence (chapter 14)
  • Goal setting (chapter 15)
  • Attention or concentration (chapter 16)

You may consider situations that you might encounter as a coach, physical educator, athletic trainer or physical therapist, fitness professional, and so on. In other words, although the type of problem that you tackle is limited (e.g., teamwork), the situation in which you choose to apply your knowledge is not. Design a program or intervention to prevent or improve the situation. Be specific! In the event that you encounter this situation in the real world, you should be able to use the material that you’ve developed for this project “as is.”

Note: If you choose a topic or intervention based on a chapter not yet covered in class, you are responsible for being familiar with the material relevant to that chapter when designing your program or intervention.

Final Product

Although your final product does not have a firm page range (for reasons that will become obvious), you should make sure that it is typed, double-spaced with 1-inch margins, and that it includes the following:

  • An introductory paragraph describing the situation, activity, individuals, age group, skill or ability level, and any other circumstances pertinent to the situation for which you are designing your program or
  • A complete description of your program or How will it work? If it is designed to take place in stages, what are these stages? How often should each stage be used? How will you know if your program or intervention has been effective?
  • Any forms, overheads, visual aids, or other materials you would use to implement your program or intervention (e.g., if you’re doing a goal-setting intervention for high school basketball players, develop the actual form you would use for recording goals). The key to this part of the assignment is to be creative and specific!
  • Discussion of the limitations of your program or intervention: How might you need to modify it for another sport or a different group? What type of person, team, or situation would this intervention work best with? Why?


This project is worth 25% of your grade and will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

Criteria                                                                              Weight

Systematic; appropriate for age, gender, level                  12 points Insight and understanding of relevant principles                                 8 points Originality or creativity                                                                           5 points

Total                                                                                  25 points

  • Recall that half a letter grade will be deducted for each day an assignment is late!

Project 3: Sport and Exercise Psychology Movie


Choose a topic from the following:

  • Motivation
  • Flow
  • Communication
  • Cohesion/Group dynamics
  • Anxiety
  • Imagery
  • Goal setting
  • Self-confidence

Search the Internet for a listing of the greatest sport movies and watch a movie that addresses the mental skills topic of your choice.

In a seven to eight-page paper, do the following:

  • Briefly summarize the
  • Explain the use of the mental skills in the
  • Overview the theoretical development of the mental skill (e.g., from lecture, class notes, book, other research articles).
  • Present a critique, based on the theoretical development, of how the movie portrayed both appropriate and inappropriate strategies in developing mental
  • Identify what you would do differently in working with the team, athlete, or individual portrayed in the
  • Address implications for your own field. For example, how would you apply what you have learned from the movie and through theory to develop this same mental skill (e.g., goal setting) as a fitness leader?
  • Be sure to use appropriate references and include a reference page at the end of the


This project is worth 25% of your grade and will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

Criteria                                                                 Weight

 Explanation of mental skills                                  4 point Theoretical development of mental skills                                9 points Critique 5 points

What you would do differently                            3 point

Implications                                                          3 points

References                                                            1 point

Total                                                                     25 points

Project 4: Qualitative Analysis of Flow


You will be conducting a mini-study of a qualitative nature. In this project, you will be interviewing three athletes or former athletes about the concept of flow and their experiences with flow. Each interview should last approximately 15 minutes. Be sure to arrange a quiet place to meet. Either tape record the interviews or take notes during the interviews so that you can write up your summary. Tape recording the interviews is a good idea so that you can refer to the tape afterward.

Have the athletes or former athletes sign the agreement to participate form linked to the end of this assignment. Turn this in with your lab report.

Lab report format:

  • 1-inch margins on all sides
  • Double-spaced
  • Times New Roman, 12-point font
  • Page numbers in upper right corner (except on cover page)
  • Staple in upper left corner
  • Include a cover page with your name, course number and name, and the due
  • Proofread final lab report—including spelling and

Interview Guide

To start the interview, ask the athlete to think of a time when she or he was totally involved or absorbed in an athletic experience (or when she or he felt “in the zone”), when everything came together to allow the athlete to have an optimal performance. During the interview, it may help to explain flow as being “in the zone.”

The interview should include the following questions or probes (you can put these in your own words):

  • Describe one of your best athletic experiences, when you felt in flow or “in the ” (Try to get specific details about the experience—what the situation was, when it was, where it occurred, etc.)
  • How do you feel when you are in flow? (Try to find out what characteristics of flow the person has experienced.)
  • Are any characteristics more prevalent than others? (Put this question in your own )
  • When experiencing flow, how do you feel physically?
  • What are you thinking about?
  • How often do you experience flow?
  • Are there certain situations or factors that make it easier to get into flow?
  • Are there situations or factors that disrupt your flow?
  • Do you feel like you can control getting into flow? Why or why not?

Project Format

 Introduction. This should include a description of the phenomenon of flow, a summary of previous research on flow, and a rationale and purpose for your project. Use information from the textbook, research articles, or both; use at least two references. (1–1.5 pages)

Method. Indicate how you chose your participants and arranged the interviews. Report the descriptive characteristics for each athlete (e.g., age, gender, sport, competitive experience) and the length of the interviews. Use pseudonyms (not real names) for your participants—this is to protect the participants’ privacy. (.5 page)

Results. After completing the three interviews, you need to analyze your results. Closely examine the data you collected from each of the athletes in order to compare and contrast their responses (a) between one another and (b) to the characteristics of flow reported in the literature. Your goal is to present a summary of each athlete’s responses in a way that highlights for the reader how these athletes view the flow experience. It is a good idea to include several quotes from the athletes to support your findings. (2.5–3 pages)

Discussion. In this section, you will interpret your results and explain your findings. Highlight interesting or surprising findings, as well as presenting implications of the results (e.g., Why is this important?). (1.5–2 pages)

References. Include a reference page using APA format.


 This project is worth 25% of your grade and will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

Criteria                              Weight

Introduction                       5 points

Method                               7 points

Results and discussion       10 points References    2 points Participant agreement           1 point Total    25 points

*Use the Participant Agreement Form.pdf available on BlackBoard.