Teacher Development in Basic Instruction Programs: The Ohio State Model

Article excerpt

The growth and development of the basic instruction program in physical education at The Ohio State University in the past 20 years followed many of the national trends which occurred at large research and land grant institutions. Ohio State shifted away from a physical education requirement in the 1970s to an elective program. The curriculum changed to reflect diverse student needs and desires (Oxendine, 1972; Oxendine & Roberts, 1978). Today, traditional activities such as tennis, swimming, and basketball are taught, in addition to new activities such as martial arts, backpacking, creative movement, and water aerobics.

After these curricular changes took place, hiring faculty for the program underwent a major shift. As physical education programs in universities began to specialize more in subdisciplines, such as sport management and exercise science, full-time faculty members became more involved in research and graduate classes, leaving the basic instruction program to be taught by lecturers and graduate assistants (GAs). Because 80 percent of all physical activities offered at Ohio State are taught by graduate students in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER), the school provides development and training for these graduate students.

Development and Training

Recognizing the need to provide faculty development and inservice training for these service program teachers, the School of HPER created a new faculty position to provide educational leadership to the activity program. This faculty member evaluates and supervises teaching in the basic instruction program, and was given the responsibility to create a teacher development program to promote the growth and enhancement of teaching skills.

Graduate Teaching Assistants

The GAs teaching in the activity program are selected from the various academic disciplines within the school of HPER. The majority of these GAs do not come from the teacher education or health education areas. The teacher education GAs work almost exclusively in the undergraduate majors program while health education GAs teach core classes in health, CPR, and first-aid. The activity program teachers consist largely of graduate students from recreation, sports management, somatic arts, and exercise science. Within this group, most of the exercise science students teach the conditioning and fitness classes, such as weight training, jogging, and aerobics. The sport skills, martial arts, Eastern relaxation, and social dance classes are taught by those in recreation, sports management, and somatic arts.

The GAs' backgrounds and teaching experiences vary greatly. Most have no formal teacher training. They are selected to teach on the basis of knowledge gained primarily through sustained participation in specific activities. Teaching experience ranges from none to several years in educational settings, private clubs, or public recreation programs. Few have worked in large university programs. There seems to be a lack of teaching knowledge among novice activity instructors, particularly in the areas of organization and management. Making the transition from student to teacher is not easy. On-the-job training via unsupervised teaching responsibility does little to stimulate the development of teaching skills (Rosenberg, 1989; Rosenberg, 1991). Developing instructors' teaching skills is vital to the success of a service program.

Teacher Development Program

The Ohio State Teacher Development Program for basic instruction in physical education has two primary objectives. The first is to oversee the quality of teaching that occurs in the activity program. While strong and effective teaching existed in the activity program prior to the Teacher Development Program, there was little continuity and consistency. The second objective is to provide GAs with increased support for their growth and improvement as teachers, while formally promoting outstanding teaching. …