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Changing the Face of Secondary Physical Education through Sport Education

By Jones, Diana; Ward, Phillip | JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, May 1998 | Go to article overview

Changing the Face of Secondary Physical Education through Sport Education


Jones, Diana, Ward, Phillip, JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance


The sport education model offers an alternative approach to the typical, more traditional physical education curriculum at the secondary level. "Sport education provides experiences that are more complete and authentic than typical PE sport" (Siedentop, 1994, p. 3). In essence, physical education classes within the sport education framework are organized in ways that preserve the best features of sport experiences while ensuring that they are educationally sound. As a result, students have opportunities to experience sport in a richer and more meaningful way.

In keeping with the unique characteristics of sport education, secondary physical education programs take on a different look. A unit becomes a sport season of at least 20 sessions, which creates the need for alternative class scheduling practices. Students are placed on teams almost immediately for practice and competition. A formal competition schedule in the tradition of each sport is established; however, individuals and teams are not eliminated from competition. Formal roles, such as captains, managers, coaches, statisticians, and officials, provide opportunities for increased student responsibility. A festive atmosphere exists through team names and colors, bulletin boards, statistical reports, and special awards and achievements.

The teacher's job is to arrange the conditions so students can participate responsibly and independently of the teacher. In order for this model to be implemented successfully, the physical educator must establish effective lines of communication. Students must be given a clear picture of this approach and the changes that will occur within the more traditional program. Students must be able to cooperate and communicate among themselves, as they will be part of a team structure. In addition, students must feel comfortable in sharing their ideas and concerns with the teacher. The physical educator must listen to suggestions and implement those that are important and/or necessary. The sport education model will flourish in an environment of camaraderie and cooperation. Teachers should also understand several logistical considerations when constructing a sport education unit, including team organization, student roles, team routines, practice and game schedules, the nature of culminating events, statistics, and awards.

Organization of Teams

Number of Teams. The physical educator must initially determine the number of teams that will compete during the sport season. This number will depend on the sport being played, the number of students in class, and the amount of space and equipment available. For example, instead of taking a class of 30 students and playing volleyball on two courts, the teacher may divide the court space into four smaller courts. Eight teams of three to four players can then compete at the same time, allowing for maximum participation by all students. Tennis and badminton courts also can be divided down the middle to double the playing area. The principal consideration is to create more opportunities for students to participate. Students in an 11-versus-11 soccer game will not make contact with the ball or play in as many defensive and offensive roles as they would in a five-versus-five game.

Selection of Teams. Once the number of teams has been decided, the physical educator must determine how teams are selected. A critical aspect of sport education is the notion of well-matched teams. The entire experience is more beneficial if teams are matched in ability. This process differs from current secondary physical education practices, where teams are often determined by "counting off" and may change from class to class. Several methods may be used to select teams. One method is to randomly select teams. This method usually fails to produce well-matched teams. An alternative method of team selection requires the physical education teacher to determine teams before the beginning of class.

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