Choosing Activity Units to Promote Maximum Participation: Creative Physical Education Curricula

Article excerpt

Abstract

Although curriculum models have different primary goals, a common thread throughout the models is the need for maximum participation. If students do not fully participate in the lessons, it is not likely they will achieve the program goals. This article examines the curriculum as a critical factor in the participation level of students in the instructional lessons and provides insight into how professionals might modify the curriculum to promote increased student participation levels.

In order to select activity units that lead to maximum student participation, the physical educator might consider what students' value and what activities students like and dislike. Secondary physical educators who are aware of the diverse needs and interests of their students can use student interest information to offer units that lead to increased student participation levels. It is not essential that secondary students learn to play volleyball, but it is essential that they participate fully in class (whatever the activity) in order to achieve the program goals. Students' reasons for moving and their activity likes and dislikes should be considered when planning the curriculum. Physical educators will profit from learning to value all the reasons students have for moving and being able to teach and reach students who move for a variety of reasons.

Choosing Activity Units to Promote Maximum Participation

Various curriculum models exist in physical education (Lambert, 1999; Hellison & Templin, 1991; Wuest & Lombardo, 1994). Each model espouses a primary goal (fitness, sport education, social responsibility, etc.) for physical education. Based on the goal, physical educators select program objectives and determine the curriculum to be taught. Although these curriculum models have different primary goals, a common thread throughout all the models is the need for maximum participation. However, evidence indicates students in high school physical education do not, in general, participate fully in many lessons (LaMaster & Lacy, 1993) and spend most of their time listening, waiting, and organizing (Metzler, 1989; Siedentop, 1991; Silverman, 1991). If students do not fully participate in all lessons, it is not likely they will achieve the program goals. Physical educators need to take steps to rectify this situation (Locke, 1992; Siedentop. 1992). The purpose of this article is to examine the curriculum as a critical factor in the participation level of students in the instructional lessons and to provide insight into how professionals might modify the curriculum to promote increased student participation levels.

Curriculum as a flexible subset of all possible activity units

Literature, in the area of curriculum development, and personal observation and study provide consistent data indicating that many, if not most, physical educators view their curriculum as an end in itself rather than as a means to an end. For example, secondary physical educators in Central District AHPERD viewed curriculum as a set of rigid, non-flexible units instead of viewing curriculum as a flexible subset of activity units selected from infinite activity units to achieve certain NASPE outcomes (improve fitness, develop skill, or increase participation) (Kovar, 1998). The emphasis was on constructing a curriculum where the primary purpose was to teach particular activities (i.e., volleyball, basketball, or soccer) rather than to use a variety of activities to achieve program goals such as improving fitness, developing skills, and/or increasing participation. Viewed in this manner, the curriculum becomes an end in itself, composed of a rigid set of activity units that cannot be changed regardless of whether or not students are actively engaged in the activities. Teachers with this view tend not to consider altering the curriculum in order to improve the participation rates of the students.

The liberation that comes from viewing curriculum as a means to an end is overpowering. …