Teaching Affective Qualities in Physical Education

By Heidorn, Brent; Welch, Mindy M. | Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators, May-June 2010 | Go to article overview

Teaching Affective Qualities in Physical Education


Heidorn, Brent, Welch, Mindy M., Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators


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Teaching physical education is exciting! It is important that we teach more than just knowledge, skills, and strategies. According to Rink (2006), "Affective objectives describe student feelings, attitudes, values, and social behaviors ... Unless teachers address affective goals in their programs, students may be skilled and may even be knowledgeable but may choose not to participate" (pp. 6-7). In addition, teaching to the affective domain directly aligns with two of the National Standards for Physical Education (NASPE, 2004, p. 11).

* Standard 5: Exhibits responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others in physical activity settings.

* Standard 6: Values physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression, and/or social interaction.

The purpose of this article is to promote teaching to the affective domain and provide physical educators with strategies for implementation. Physical educators at all levels have observed learners in a school-based physical education setting as well as physical activity or sport settings outside of organized school curricula demonstrating behaviors deemed inappropriate or inconsistent with professional standards (NASPE, 2004; Graham, Holt/Hale, & Parker, 2007). The following scenarios might be familiar in physical education: 1) the teacher ignores high school students taunting each other during game-like situations; 2) students grouped according to gender often leads to students making demeaning comments about other individuals or groups; 3) students do not "play fair" or "pass the ball" to certain members in their group or on their team, showing favoritism to some, or dislike of others; or 4) less skilled or physically unfit students are alienated by their peers during skill work, cooperative activities, or modified game play. Because sport is such a public, social, and international phenomenon, students have many opportunities to observe amateur, recreational, and professional athletes competing in countless sports in their neighborhoods, at their schools, and across the globe. Unfortunately, sport participants do not always demonstrate social behaviors that are consistent with desired physical education learning outcomes. One of the outcomes at risk is that students may be learning 'bad habits' or antisocial behaviors from the so-called role models they observe. As physical educators we have a responsibility to intentionally incorporate appropriate affective qualities and behaviors as part of our teaching objectives and learning outcomes. What follows are three explicit strategies for integrating the affective domain in the physical education curriculum.

First, physical education teachers should purposefully accept the fact that they are the role models for developing individual and group characteristics highlighted in NASPE Standards 5 and 6 (NASPE, 2004). Leading by example and demonstrating appropriate behavior in the context of developing motor skills is a powerful 'teaching tool.' In fact, role modeling can become an asset a teacher brings to the classroom every day! In order for the students to develop positive character traits such as responsibility and respect for self and others, the teacher must model the desired outcome in the same way he/she demonstrates the critical elements of performing a motor skill. In addition, the pedagogical skill of demonstrating examples and non-examples applies to the affective domain. For example, at no time should physical educators display favoritism, or communicate sarcastically in ways that portray negative attitudes or inappropriate actions. Teachers should structure activities to maximize the participation of all students (NASPE, 2000). Singling out or marginalizing individual students at the low end of the motor skill continuum can result in embarrassment or humiliation. Likewise, valuing physical activity for health benefits should not be reserved for high- or low-skilled learners.

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