Using Instructional Software to Meet National Physical Education Standards

Article excerpt

Numerous research studies (e.g., Kromhout & Butzin, 1993; Kulik, 1994) have found that learning time is reduced and mastery increased for students who use multimedia instructional programs in subjects ranging from language arts to science. These studies also have shown that students exhibit greater motivation and enjoyment when they use such software--they are more actively involved in lessons, and their attention is more focused. Several questions arise, then. What do these findings mean for K-12 physical education? What kinds of software programs are available to assist with student learning in physical education? How can instructional software be used so that activity time is not greatly reduced? How does one know whether a particular piece of software is of high quality and appropriate for student use?

The implementation of instructional software in the physical education setting should be a four-step process:

1. Identify the standards and instructional objectives of the lesson.

2. Determine the most appropriate teaching strategy (including instructional materials) for meeting these standards and objectives.

3. If it is determined that the instructional materials should include software, then one must select the specific software that can best help students meet the standards and objectives.

4. Determine how best to incorporate instructional software into the lesson.

Step 1

The identification of the standards and instructional objectives for each lesson should come from your district or site's standards and curriculum. However, if your district or site has not gone through the curriculum-development process, then the National Association for Sport and Physical Education's (1995) Moving into the Future: National Physical Education Standards can be used as a starting point for this process (table 1). This resource, along with a concepts book (e.g., Clement & Hartman, 1994; Mohnsen, 1998), will provide you with the necessary information to establish what you want students to achieve during a lesson or unit.

Step 2

More often than not, the appropriate instructional strategy will not include the use of software. However, there will be times when instructional software is appropriate, depending on the learning styles of the students and the content of the lesson. Three of the cognitive areas addressed in the national standards--exercise physiology/anatomy, motor learning, and biomechanics--are particularly suited to the use of instructional software. This is not to say that other areas do not lend themselves to such tools, or that software should be the only avenue for instruction in these three areas. For the purposes of this article, however, I will focus on these three.

Step 3

In most subject areas, the number of available software products is in the hundreds, including drill and practice programs, electronic tutorials, analysis software, reference software, educational games, and simulations. Within physical education, however, the number of instructional software products can often be counted on one hand, depending on the particular standard or objective being addressed. Below are several of the more popular programs that are related to the three cognitive areas identified above. Physical educators should look for high-quality software (table 2) that meets the specific standards and objectives of their lessons.

Exercise Physiology/Anatomy

ADAM, The Inside Story (ADAM Software) takes students on a journey into the secrets of the human body. Interactive anatomy and physiology lessons for grades 4-8 are provided with text, music, detailed images, narrated animation, medical illustrations, expert commentaries, 3-D imagery, quizzes, a glossary, real-life video and sound, voice pronunciations of over 1,200 anatomical terms, and Internet access--all in conjunction with a teacher's guide for curriculum integration. …