You should expect a PE teacher to be skilled at observing the exercise activities of pupils. This perceptual competence is important to help effectively pupils and provide a reliable assessment. Lecturers and teachers of Physical Education (PE) question whether the perceptual competence is adequate in practice and how this can be deliberately practised. The Healthy Lifestyle in a Supporting Environment research group is conducting research to answer these questions.

From the little research that exists, it appears that no matter how experienced a teacher is, they only choose the right course of action in half the cases. Students do just as well as teachers who have been doing the job for five to ten years. Therefore, they don’t develop an eye for the right exercise in practice. Improving physical education requires more knowledge and understanding of perceptual competence.  

Research into perceptual competence

The research is divided into four projects:

  1. Mapping out perceptual competence: the researchers show teachers and students recordings of pupils exercising. They are subsequently asked about the pupils’ movements. Furthermore, the researchers watch the viewing behaviour with a ‘gaze tracker’ that shows what the teacher or student is looking at. 
  2. Deliberate practice by PE teachers: the researchers look at whether perceptual competence improves if the viewing pattern of an expert is visible in the exercise clips. And whether it helps to practice with exercise clips that show the pupils from five points of view. They also research options to give teachers more self-control regarding the exercise.
  3. Deliberate practice by PE students: the researchers look at whether perceptual competence improves if students have more conceptual knowledge about the biomechanics of movements. And whether that helps to improve their own physical literacy. 
  4. New digital learning environment: with their new knowledge and understanding, the researchers developed a learning environment in which students from the Academies of Physical Education (ALOs) can improve their skills.


‘The eye of the master’ is funded by a RAAK-PRO subsidy from which a consortium with the following partners has been established:

More information


This project runs until September 2023.


Annemarie de Witte
06 – 89 99 02 97

Jonas Leenhouts
06 – 28 37 47 86