Constructivist Teaching Practices of Expert and Novice Elementary Physical Educators. (Research Works)

Article excerpt

Constructivists believe that connecting previous experiences and knowledge to new concepts enhances learning. Sociocultural constructivists stress the importance of attitudes--both of students and instructors--and social interactions on skill and knowledge acquisition. Constructivism is the foundation for the "movement approach" to teaching. Physical educators adopting a movement approach use students' prior knowledge to enhance learning through problem solving, peer teaching, and active exploration of movement options.

Chen and Rovegno (2000) developed the Educational Games Observation Rubric (EGOR) to examine elementary physical education teachers. The researchers studied how effectively constructivist-oriented teaching practices were used by expert and novice teachers. Three expert and three novice teachers were observed during 18 dribbling lessons (3 each) using a movement-approach teaching style. Each subject was analyzed using coding from the EGOR, two formal interviews, and videotaped lesson analysis. The expert teachers had a minimum of six years teaching experience using a movement approach; two of them had used the approach in Meaningful Movement for Children (Hoffman, Young, & Klesius, 1981), and one had used Every Child a Winner (Rockett & Owens, 1977).

The novice teachers were student teachers familiar with Laban's movement framework and with the skill-theme approach (Graham, Holt-Hale, & Parker, 1993).

The Meaningful Movement for Children approach seeks to make learning meaningful to students by promoting self-awareness, independence, and cooperation, and by helping students learn to accept responsibility, express ideas, and create relationships. The Every Child a Winner approach aims to enhance learning by promoting creativity, cooperation, and problem-solving in students. Skill-theme practitioners use authentic movement situations to promote exploration and understanding of movement concepts.

The EGOR coding system used to analyze the videotaped lessons of each teacher consisted of ten constructivist-oriented teaching practices focusing on how the instructors made students responsible for their own learning, how they connected prior knowledge to new experiences, and how they promoted cooperation (or social interaction) among students. In addition to the EGOR, each subject was interviewed twice. The initial interview gathered information about experience, teaching philosophies, and teaching practices. The second interview examined the subjects' perspectives on concepts outlined in the EGOR.

Both novice and expert teachers engaged students by encouraging exploration of movement options, such as dribbling at different levels, speeds, and directions. Expert teachers enhanced student engagement by promoting student decision-making options. Expert teachers had students explore activities by thinking about the skills they were performing and by discovering activities that incorporated dribbling. Students in the novice teachers' classes were not encouraged to self-analyze their dribbling to improve efficiency. …