The Search for Effective Teaching in Basic Instruction Programs

Article excerpt

What do we really know about effective teaching in college physical education? In the search for effective teaching, this article briefly addresses concerns about graduate teaching assistant (TA, also referred to as GA) instruction; reviews research conducted within the basic instruction program knowledge base; and suggests ways for promoting effective teaching, aimed particularly at teaching assistants.

Concern with TA Instruction

As the predominant instructors in many service programs (Miller, Dowell, & Pender, 1989), TAs are expected to serve as part-time teachers while also enrolled as full-time graduate students. These conflicting roles can make effective teaching difficult. Coupled with this role conflict, TAs often have little or no teaching experience. Concern with TA instruction has inspired national conferences, encouraged publications, and prompted many universities to either establish or strengthen existing inservice teacher development efforts. In an examination of TA instruction, Donovan and Lay (1988) reported that TAs who hold teaching certificates scored consistently higher than TAs from nonteaching undergraduate programs on criteria evaluating their appearance, poise, communication, preparation, instruction, and evaluation of students. Kretchmar (1991) suggested that TAs "show evidence of prior successful teaching experience...or participate in an in-service program and receive supervision from a master teacher during early teaching experiences."

These inservice teaching development programs should be driven by information generated from the basic instruction knowledge base.

The Basic Instruction Knowledge Base

The basic instruction knowledge base, while not extensive, can be separated into general program evaluations or effective teaching studies. The lack of teaching research within the service program is due in part to the preference pedagogy faculty have for conducting their inquiry within elementary and secondary physical education. Systematic approaches for examining effective teaching within the activity program are few when compared to school-aged populations. Also, the predominant theme in the basic instruction knowledge base is general program evaluation.

General Program Evaluation

Most general program evaluation studies have examined factors such as student interest and satisfaction, favorite courses, and percentages of enrolled students (Adams & Brynteson, 1992; Avery & Lumpkin, 1987; Boyce, Lehr, & Baumgartner, 1986; Brynteson & Adams, 1992; Finnicum, Darby, & Suggs, 1991; Ishee, 1991; Kisabeth, 1986; Lumpkin & Avery, 1986; Miller, Dowell, & Pender, 1989; Soudan & Everett, 1981; Tangen-Foster & Lathen, 1983; Trimble & Hensley, 1984, 1990). Generalizations from these studies include: * Students say they want to maintain

good health and physical condition,

have fun, and get regular exercise. * Students are generally satisfied with

course offerings, but administrators

must keep abreast of changing student

needs and desires. * Student interest has shifted away

from team sports toward individual

lifetime sports and individual fitness-related

activities. This plethora of research was conducted to discover if student needs were being met and to detect trends that would need to be addressed in future policy decisions. In a recent "downstream" inquiry, Adams and Brynteson (1992) sent questionnaires to alumni to gather substantive information about the long-term value of the activity program. The authors reported that graduates from a service program with required courses demonstrated more positive exercise attitudes and behaviors than graduates from an elective program. A follow-up study (Brynteson & Adams, 1992) reported that graduates from concepts-based courses (i.e., teaching of cognitive exercise concepts) had significantly greater knowledge and positive attitudes toward fitness, and had better exercise habits than graduates of skill-based courses (i. …