Applied Benefits of the Sport Education Model

Article excerpt

Siedentop states that the main goal of the sport education model is "to educate students to be players in the fullest sense, and to help them develop as competent, literate and enthusiastic sportspeople" (1994, p. 4). To date, research has shown promising findings in relation to these three goals. It is the purpose of this article to describe some of the benefits for both teachers and students of including seasons of sport education within a yearly plan for physical education.

Benefits to Students

For students, the benefits of sport education participation include an increased investment in physical education, an increased level of learning in games units, and increased opportunities for potentially marginalized students.

Investment. As students become more skillful, they are given increasing levels of responsibility and are placed in an environment that reinforces specific interpersonal behaviors through formal accountability systems. Students seem particularly to enjoy sport education because it provides them with chances to socialize and have fun. Many students comment on how much they enjoy being with their friends (developed through consistent team membership), and how they are free to make decisions without a teacher's input. As a result, sport education seasons are a setting that can accommodate the students' social agendas in a way that encourages high levels of student investment.

Learning. The extent of student learning in sport education tends to depend on the skill level of the students, their age, and their experience with an activity. For lower-skilled students in all age groups, learning occurs in the more familiar aspects of game play, such as in developing game skills and in applying these skills in game situations. These students also report increased understanding of team strategies and tactics, as well as increased knowledge of the rules. For higher-skilled students, the type of learning depends on the level of schooling. At the secondary school level, students learn to develop leadership skills, to develop and promote cooperation and teamwork, and to teach other students. For middle school students, even those with high skill levels, learning gains relate more to increases in both the execution of skills in game situations and in the selection of more appropriate tactics. During a six-versus-six frisbee unit, for example, there was clear evidence that the players became more skillful in the control of the frisbee, and they were also able to select a wider range of pass options (Hastie, in press).

A further advantage of sport education in terms of student learning is that students become more literate about the sport they are playing. Through the adoption of roles such as statistician, referee, and scorekeeper, students learn more about the nonplayer roles of play. Studies have found that students take these responsibilities seriously and exhibit minimal levels of off-task behaviors while performing these roles (Hastie, 1996).

Opportunities for potentially marginalized students. Two groups of students who are potentially marginalized in team sports are girls and low-skilled students. Evidence shows that these students do indeed get a "fair go" during sport education seasons. Carlson (1995) writes of low-skilled students whose response to sport education is best summarized as "now I think I can." For these students, there is a belief not only that they improved in skill levels, but that they could also make a positive contribution to their teams. These feelings were accompanied by a sense of belonging and trust from their teammates.

In a further study, Hastie (1998) has shown that girls receive equal practice and playing opportunities as boys within a middle school hockey season. Furthermore, these girls enjoyed playing on coeducational teams because they believed the games were of a higher standard and they were expected to work and try harder.

The keys to accommodating marginalized students are threefold. …