Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education New Zealand

Integrating Theory and Practice in Teacher Education: The Impact of a Game Sense Unit on Female Pre-Service Primary Teachers' Attitudes towards Teaching Physical Education

Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education New Zealand

Integrating Theory and Practice in Teacher Education: The Impact of a Game Sense Unit on Female Pre-Service Primary Teachers' Attitudes towards Teaching Physical Education

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper reports on a study that inquired into female pre-service primary teachers' experiences of a unit of study on Game Sense teaching in a primary teacher education programme in Australia. It examined student attitudes and inclinations toward physical education that they brought to the unit and the impact their experience of the unit had upon their views on physical education and their inclinations to teach. At the same time it examined the effectiveness of the unit's design and the ways in which the learning experiences provided interacted with existing beliefs to shape learning and knowledge of games teaching. The unit featured an attempt to integrate theory and practice by structuring lectures around experiences of games as learners and teachers. This paper suggests that combining theoretical lectures with a reflective approach to practical workshops and teaching experiences in schools provides an effective means of developing student understanding of Game Sense over a short period of time.

Introduction

Although a wide range of socio-cultural factors shape children's attitudes to physical activity primary school physical education exerts an important influence on their education, exercise adherence, health and future well being (Harrison, 1998). It does, however, typically suffer from a lack of status, reduced time and resources and poor quality programmes (Hardman & Marshall, 2001). It is considered to be of less value in increasingly crowded school curricula (Williams, 1989). Concerns with reduced time spent on physical education in Australian primary schools were aired by the Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Recreation and the Arts (SSCERA) in 1992 but this continues to be a problem (Gard & Fry, 1997; Hardman, 2000). Within this context of concern with the state of physical education in primary schools ability of classroom teachers to deliver quality physical education programmes due to inadequate teacher training prorammes has been identified as an area of concern (see for example. Moore. Webb, & Dickson, 1997). When faced with teaching physical education primary school teachers often feel inadequate and lack confidence and interest in the subject (Curtner-Smith, 1999; Martens, 1996).

Despite promising developments in physical education teaching still-dominant approaches emphasising the mastery of technique before playing games marginalise and exclude girls and the less confident males (Ennis, 1999). This has serious implications for primary school teacher preparation programmes where the overwhelming majority of pre-service teachers are female. These pre-service teachers bring with them a particular set of values toward sport and physical education shaped by their own experiences while at school that are likely to be different to those of students attracted to Physical Education Teacher Education PETE) programs (Dewar, 1989; Light. 2002). For example, many of the pre-service primary school teachers in Light's (2002) study on TGfU saw little value in physical education in the curriculum prior to their exposure to Teaching Games for Understanding. A considerable number of them also lacked the confidence to teach physical education and were not inclined to devote significant time and effort to teaching it.

Game Sense is an approach to coaching and teaching games developed in Australia during the mid 1990s by the Australian Sports Commission (see, den Duyn, 1997). It offers a pedagogy for generalist primary school teachers through which they can provide inclusive enjoyable and effective experiences of learning to play sport and games (Light 2002; Mitchell. 2005). However, most do not have the deep knowledge of game play that many researchers in the physical education field feel is needed to successfully teach using a Game Sense/TGfU approach (for example, Howarth, 2005; Mitchell. 2005). Adding to the challenge of helping generalist teachers develop Game Sense is the typically brief exposure they have to physical education in their teacher preparation programmes. …

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