Academic journal article The International Journal of Behavioral Consultation and Therapy

Educating through the Physical-Procedures and Implementation

Academic journal article The International Journal of Behavioral Consultation and Therapy

Educating through the Physical-Procedures and Implementation

Article excerpt


The unique features of physical activity and play highlight it as a constructive context for attaining behavioral goals such as self-control and social skills. Strenuous activity, competition, adherence to rules, team play, frustration and joy are all characteristics inherent in sport that make it a perfect "school for life". This paper presents a model of Educating through the Physical, in which behavioral goals are achieved and mastered within the context of physical activity and then generalized across other settings and individuals. It provides educators and clinicians with practical tools to design and implement movement-related lesson plans (scripts) based on functional analytic information in order to attain pedagogical and clinical objectives.

Keywords: self-control, social skills, physical education.


Participation in physical activity can contribute to psychological, cognitive and social functioning. Past research has indicated that carefully designed activities and games, can change behavior and attain positive outcomes (e.g., Ames, 1981; Bay-Hinitz, Peterson, & Quilitch, 1994; Collingwood, 1997; Cooper, 1982; Gough, 1997; Johnson & Johnson, 1985; Kohn, 1992; McKenney & Dattilo, 2001; Priest, Krause, & Beach, 1999; Sherif, Harvey, Hood, & Sherif, 1987; Staub, 1978). Play is perhaps the most natural form of human learning and what young children do when they are not eating, sleeping, or complying with the wishes of adults (Gallahue, 1989). School-aged students tend to view their Physical Education (PE) classes as a welcome break from the classroom that helps keep them fit, healthy, challenged and socially active (Browne, 1992; McKenzie, Alcaraz, & Sallies, 1994; Rice, 1988; Tannehill & Zakrajsek, 1993; Tjeerdsma, Rink, & Graham, 1996).

Furthermore, physical activity encompasses certain characteristics that are particularity dominant within this context (e.g., strenuous performance, competition, adherence to rules, etc.) while they are not inherent to other school subjects. Thus, the unique qualities of physical activity and games can serve as an enjoyable and constructive context in which students are presented with challenges and learning opportunities. Notably, the UN (2003) has recognized the unique qualities of sport education as a "school for life" that goes beyond mere teaching of physical skills. According to the special UN task force "sport provides a forum to learn skills such as discipline, confidence and leadership and it teaches core principles such as tolerance, cooperation and respect. Sport teaches the value of effort and how to manage victory, as well as defeat." (p. 5). Consistent with this notion we present the concept of Educating Through the Physical as promoting educational objectives that are extrinsic to those of movement.

The aim of this paper is to provide educators and clinicians with practical tools to implement educational programs within the context of physical activity and play. The first part of the article presents a 5-stage model of educating through the physical. This model has been established throughout the author's 20 years of clinical experience. As part of a comprehensive effort, the main body of this paper concentrates on implementing lesson plans, as we introduce behavioral goals that can be attained and explain how to incorporate them into the curriculum. Notably, the procedures presented here are not exclusive to PE classes and they can be adjusted and applied to various intervention programs. Although many of the examples are derived from educational settings, in our clinical work we have implemented identical procedures with a single child or a small group of participants, both within and outside of school settings.

The Model of Educating Through the Physical

The model presented here is based on prearranged situations in which the target behavior is emitted in a predictable manner within a well structured and controlled curriculum (Axelrod, 1987; Iwata, Dorsey, Slifer, Bauman, & Richman, 1982/1994; Repp, Felce, & Barton, 1988; Rolider & Axelrod, 2000; Rolider & Van Houten, 1993; Skinner, 1953). …

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