Academic journal article Physical Educator

Effects of an Educational Gymnastics Course on the Motor Skills and Health-Related Fitness Components of PETE Students

Academic journal article Physical Educator

Effects of an Educational Gymnastics Course on the Motor Skills and Health-Related Fitness Components of PETE Students

Article excerpt

Standard 2 of the National Initial Physical Education Teacher Education Standards indicates that physical education teacher candidates are physically educated individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to demonstrate competent movement performance and health-enhancing fitness (National Association for Sport and Physical Education [NASPE], 2008). Competence in motor skills is important to being an effective physical education teacher (Capel & Whitehead, 2015; Martens, Burwitz, & Zuckerman, 1976; Mitchell, 2007; NASPE, 2009; Staffo & Stier, 2000), because the teacher must be able to demonstrate properly for students to imitate good practice and become more proficient (Capel & Whitehead, 2015). Being personally fit is also important to being an effective physical education teacher (Cardinal, 2001; Gold, Petrella, Angel, Ennis, & Woolley, 2012; Kamla, Snyder, Tanner, & Wash, 2012; Melville & Maddalozzo, 1988; Mitchell, 2007; NASPE, 2009), because PE teachers who model a lifestyle that promotes fitness and physical activity are better able to reinforce student learning about fitness concepts and will influence their students to adopt similar lifestyles (Kamla et al., 2012).

One way that physical education teacher education (PETE) programs ensure that their majors are skillful in a variety of movement forms is by building their content knowledge via physical activity courses designed for PETE students (Ayvazo, Ward, & Stuhr, 2010). However, there is much variability in both the amount and types of content courses provided by PETE programs in colleges and universities in the United States (Bahneman & McGrath, 2004), with many programs seriously reducing the credit hours available for these courses (Siedentop, 2002). This variability is due to the long-standing issue of determining exactly what should represent the essential movement content core for PETE programs (Collier, 2006) and has been compounded by the issue of curricular space in these programs (Ayers & Housner, 2008).

Educational gymnastics is one content area commonly included in PETE programs. It is an activity with many benefits (Baumgarten & Pagnano-Richardson, 2010; Bean, 1977; Beaumont, 1979; Capel, 1986; Donham-Foutch, 2007; Hardy, 1978; Mauldon & Layson, 1979; Sloan, 2007; Werner, Williams, & Hall, 2012; Williams, 1987), and it has been described as a fundamental and critical part of the physical education curriculum that should be offered in preschool through college (Donham-Foutch, 2007). One such benefit is that it promotes abilities related to health and fitness (Werner et al., 2012; Baumgarten & Pagnano-Richardson, 2010). Educational gymnastics is unique from other content areas in that it plays a role in sports and everyday life by helping people learn how to manage their bodies efficiently and safely (Werner et al., 2012). It is also unique in that an indirect teaching style and open-ended tasks are used, making it a developmentally appropriate activity that allows for differences in individual skill levels so that all participants can be successful at a task (Nilges, 2002).

The arguments in favor of educational gymnastics as an essential content area are plentiful, but limited empirical evidence exists linking physical activity courses to the development of content knowledge in the form of motor skill proficiency or fitness outcomes in PETE students. Few researchers have examined the relationship between educational gymnastics specifically and the development of skill and/or fitness. There is an emerging relationship between skill and fitness (Barnett, Beurden, Morgan, Brooks, & Beard, 2008; Stodden, Langendorfer, Goodway, Ferkel, & Gao, 2012; Stodden, Langendorfer, & Robertson, 2009; Webster et al., 2014), but the majority of studies in this area have been conducted on youth as opposed to college students. Furthermore, most researchers have not used gymnastics as a measure of skill. …

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