Academic journal article Physical Educator

Perceptions of Assessment in Elementary Physical Education: A Case Study

Academic journal article Physical Educator

Perceptions of Assessment in Elementary Physical Education: A Case Study

Article excerpt


The purpose of the study was twofold: (a) to examine a teacher's perceptions of attempting to implement assessments aligned with the NASPE standards and (b) to examine students' perceptions of assessment in physical education. Participants were 46 4th grade students and their physical education teacher. Data were collected through a Likert-scale attitude questionnaire, documents and interviews with 27 of the 46 students and their teacher. Questionnaire data were analyzed with descriptive statistics. Interview data were analyzed qualitatively. Results indicated that both teacher and students perceived that the teaching-learning process was enhanced through the process of using assessment aligned with the NASPE standards. Secondly, marginalization of physical education impacted both students' and teacher's perceptions of assessment.


Education standards have become part of the educational landscape. National standards have been developed for a variety of academic disciplines (e.g., NCTM Standards, 2000 for math; NSES Standards, 1995 for science). Physical education has developed its own national standards (National Association for Sport and Physical Education, 1995) with many states such as New York, South Carolina, and Massachusetts developing individual standards as well.

The NASPE standards were designed to provide physical education teachers with content and performance standards that provide both direction and accountability. The standards enable teachers to deliver instruction that addresses what students should know, understand, and be able to do in physical education.

Closely tied to standards and the notion of competence is the assessment of educational outcomes. A strong relationship between standards and assessment needs to exist to ensure that students become competent in the standards. Assessment provides a concrete method to measure the degree to which standards have been met. Assessment aligned with the standards measure the degree students can demonstrate, in context, their understanding and performance relative to identified standards of learning (Lambert, 1999).

Assessment that is aligned with standards in physical education may be difficult to achieve for many reasons. Historically in physical education, assessment has been lacking. Researchers have attempted to identify why there is a lack of assessment in physical education (Hensley, 1990; Matanin & Tannehill, 1994). Many physical education teachers do not assess because they believe that there are problems such as lack of time, overcrowded classes, and/or a lack of formal preparation to conduct assessment in the school setting (Hensley, 1990; Lund, 1993; Veal, 1988).

Second, in addition to contextual factors it appears that teacher thinking about assessment may also contribute to the degree of success in aligning assessment with educational standards. Researchers have investigated teachers' thought processes about assessment and have suggested that perhaps part of the reason teachers struggle with assessment is because some teachers experience great discomfort with assessment (Barnes, 1985). This, too, may be the case with physical education teachers. Researchers indicate that some physical education teachers do not believe that assessment is necessary (Kneer, 1986). Furthermore, some teachers possess goals that they espouse but do not assess those goals (Veal, 1988, 1992; Matanin & Tannehill, 1994). Instead, teachers often base evaluations more on whether students comply with class rules for behavior and participation in learning activities than for learning (Matanin & Tannehill, 1994).

Third, students' thinking about assessment may also contribute to the degree of success encountered when attempting to align assessment with educational standards. There has been a developing research base regarding student perceptions of physical education, in fact there has been an entire monograph dedicated to student perceptions (Graham, 1995). …

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