The Impact of Teaching Physical Education to Czech School Children Using Progressive Teaching Approaches: Findings of a Four-Year Study

Article excerpt

SUMMARY

Practice teaching is an important feature of pre-professional preparation of teachers. This study assessed student teachers' (STs) and pupils': overall evaluation and evaluation of pupils' roles in physical education (PE) and second subject lessons. STs delivered the lessons using either traditional or progressive teaching approaches. Questionnaires were completed by 57 STs and 10,517 high school pupils who assessed the lessons taught by the STs. Differences in the evaluation of pupil's role were analysed according to teaching approach, school years, and gender. In both types of lessons, pupils evaluated progressive teaching approaches more positively than the traditional approaches. Pupils' roles in lessons delivered using progressive teaching approaches also increased. STs evaluated the progressive approaches in both lessons more positively than traditional approaches. Girls evaluated PE lessons more favourably than boys regardless of teaching approach. If the goal is to increase pupils' role in the lessons, progressive teaching approach may be more effective than traditional.

Key words: student teacher, teaching style, high school pupils, gender, questionnaire, health

INTRODUCTION

During the pre-professional preparation of teachers, student practice teaching experience provides undergraduate students teachers (STs) the opportunities to work and communicate with pupils in various school environments (1). STs' practice experience enhances the collaboration between elementary and secondary schools on the one hand (where teaching happens), and universities on the other (where teacher training happens) (2). Pre-professional preparation also provides STs with opportunities to efficiently work together with teachers who supervise the classes. Such interactions assist in the translation of research findings into practice, and instil evidence-based procedures that enhance the educational experience. Furthermore, practice teaching sessions are opportunities where new instructional approaches are implemented and tested (3).

Student practice teaching where STs acquire teaching and management skills (e.g. in PE lessons) is a useful formative evaluative tool to formulate optimal structure and content of STs' pre-professional curriculum (1, 4). This is important, as although the preparation of future PE teachers necessitates early explorations of every aspect of the 'real' world of PE teaching, recent analyses of practice teaching suggested several shortfalls (5-7). Other challenges in teacher development include the extent of teachers' respect for pupil's emotions, as well as their predictions about the skill levels of pupils (8). Hence there has been calls that "shaping the future of the nation's work force in PE may start with early induction into teaching, in addition to a longer student teaching period" ( 1 ). The focus would be twofold: to improve STs' skills in enhancing the pupils' involvement in the educational processes; and to boost STs' abilities and fluency in progressive interdisciplinary teaching.

Globally, current educational systems emphasise the greater involvement of pupils in the educational processes. This includes freedom in decision making, independence, creativity, as well as self-diagnosis and self-evaluation (9). In PE, further aims are to increase pupils' enjoyment during physical activity, and their responsibility for success (10-12). When pupils participate in decisions on their activities (13-14), their motivation increases and they do not have reasons to misbehave (15).

Progressive Interdisciplinary (Cross-curricular) Teaching

Interdisciplinary (cross-curricular) teaching involves conscious efforts to apply knowledge, principles, and values to more than one academic discipline simultaneously. The disciplines may be related through a central theme, issue, problem, process, topic, or experience (16). However, little research has investigated progressive approaches that apply interdisciplinary teaching integration in order to enhance STs' pedagogical knowledge, and boost pupils' role in the educational experience (17). …