Influence of a Physical Education Methods Course on Elementary Education Majors' Knowledge of Fundamental Movement Skills

By Hart, Melanie A. | Physical Educator, Winter 2005 | Go to article overview

Influence of a Physical Education Methods Course on Elementary Education Majors' Knowledge of Fundamental Movement Skills


Hart, Melanie A., Physical Educator


Abstract

With an increase concern for childhood obesity, many individuals and organizations are emphasizing the importance of quality physical education. The need for quality physical education at the elementary level is extremely important as research has shown a relationship between the performance of fundamental movement skills and children's body weight. However, quality teaching requires a knowledge base of the subject matter. At the elementary level, some states allow the classroom teachers to provide physical education instruction to their students, and many of these teachers lack a physical education knowledge base. The purpose of this study was to assess the influence of physical education methods courses on the knowledge of elementary education majors in the area of fundamental movement skills. The data were obtained by using a questionnaire to assess students' knowledge by having them list fundamental movement skills before and after completing an elementary physical education methods course. The results suggest completion of a physical education methods course positively influences elementary education majors' knowledge o f fundamental movement skills.

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The percentage of obese children in the United States is at an all time high, and the percentage seems to be on a steady increase (CDC, 2004). With an increased concern for childhood obesity, many individuals and organizations are emphasizing the importance of quality physical education (AAHPERD, 2004). The need for quality physical education at the elementary level is extremely important as research has shown a relationship between the performance of fundamental movement skills and youth's body weight (Booth, Chey & Southall, 2002), physical activity (Okely, Booth & Patterson, 2001 a) and cardiorespiratory endurance (Okely, Booth, & Patterson, 2001 b). In a study conducted by Wall and colleagues (Wall, Rudisill, Goodway & Parish, 2004), it was concluded that children require quality instruction, not just exposure to equipment and practice opportunities to develop appropriate fundamental movement skills.

The teaching and assessment of fundamental movement skills are very important for the children's motor development and continued participation in physical activity (Okely et al., 2001a; Wall et al., 2004). Payne and Isaacs (2002) have suggested that fundamental movement skills are the "building blocks" of more specific sports-related skills. The development and mastery of fundamental movement skills should occur during the preschool and elementary years (Gabbard, 2000). Without mastery of fundamental movement skills, children will lose interest and eventually drop out of most if not all physical activities (Eckert, 1987). Clark and Metcalfe (2002) summarize the importance of fundamental movement skills in the following statement:

   Indeed, these fundamental motor patterns
   form a base camp to which the individual
   may always return as he attempts to
   climb the various peaks (skills) on the
   mountain of motor development. (p. 178)

If children have a strong foundation in the fundamental movement skills, they are more likely to enjoy participation in physical activities, and are more willing to attempt new skills and activities (Okley et al., 2001 a). These attributes are required for a lifetime of physical activity.

"The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) recommends that federal and state education entities greatly increase their efforts to improve the availability and quality of physical education throughout the nation." (NASPE, 1998, p. 3) One way to ensure "quality physical education" is to require skilled, competent instructors in physical education. However, at the elementary level, only four states require physical education instruction by certified physical educators (NASPE, 2002). In the remaining states, many elementary classroom teachers are expected to provide the physical education instruction for their students.

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