Assessment in Physical Education: A Teacher's Guide to the Issues

By Bob Carroll | Go to book overview

Chapter 2

Why Assess in Physical Education?
There are two basic questions to be answered in this chapter under the 'why' question. Firstly, what are the purposes and uses of assessment in PE? This is the fundamental question of 'why assess at all?' and the answers will have a lot in common with other subjects. But these purposes always existed, so, secondly, why did PE became involved in the formal assessment system such as examinations only in recent years and after it was generally and invariably thought as unnecessary and undesirable to do so? I will deal with the second question first.
Why PE Became Involved in Formal Assessment
Until recently, and in contrast to other major subjects on the curriculum, physical education in schools had been characterized generally by a lack of formal assessment. This is not to say that informal or formal assessment had not taken place, and as we have seen, informal assessment is an integral part of teaching and learning. The main forms of assessment in PE were:
(i) comments on the now much maligned school report. Teachers often had to make their comments under pressure of time and limitations of space. The comments were often short, general or vague, such as 'satisfactory' meaning either 'the pupil is satisfactory' or 'I am not sure who he/she is, so must be satisfactory', but often did make reference to the central dimensions of attainment or ability and effort (Carroll, 1980). It was common to give a grading on a five-point scale of A to E (normative) on the dimensions of attainment and effort. PE teachers usually made it difficult for themselves and in particular to make accurate assessments as they did not normally have recorded evidence of attainments. The purpose of the report was to give information about the pupils to their parents, but they were not always treated too seriously and the value placed on them by teachers, pupils and parents was inconsistent and open to question. Teachers who had to take a large number of classes and pupils had difficulty knowing all the pupils in any detail. However, reports were generally manageable. These have

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