Sense of Connection: Toward Postmodern Social Constructivist Physical Education

Article excerpt

Laura Azzarito, Louisiana State University, and Gatherine D. Ennis, University of Maryland

In postmodern social constructivist educational theory, the classroom is seen as a community of learners. Students co-construct knowledge and meanings through interdependent social and individual learning processes. According to postmodern social constructivists, learning occurs through peer interactions, student ownership of the curriculum and educational experiences that are authentic and meaningful for students in the classrooms. The purpose of this study was to investigate ways in which social constructivist approaches to physical education can enhance students' learning. Specifically, we examined (a) how students constructed knowledge and meanings, (b) how teachers used social constructivist strategies to encourage students' knowledge construction, and (c) the extent to which the social constructivist process enhanced students' construction of knowledge and meanings. An ethnographic naturalistic design was used to collect data over a 4-month period in two middle school physical education classrooms. Data included 10 posts of observational field notes, and interviews with 10 students and 2 physical education teachers. The two teacher-participants were selected from among eight teachers who had at least five years of teaching experience. The classrooms of selected teachers exhibited the following characteristics: students worked in groups, students and teachers interacted frequently, teachers acted as facilitators and used a variety of learning materials to enrich the learning context, and students were highly involved in the class activity with their peers. …