18 SES 12 B, Studying Practices within Physical Education
Background and research question
International research has suggested that PE is synonymous with learning different sport-techniques and students learning being ‘a mile wide and an inch deep’ (Kirk, 2010). According to the research, what seems to be the typical a typical PE lesson is students be exposed for a multi-activity-curriculum in which students are presented to an introduction of different sport-techniques in a range of activities. Much of the teaching seems to be given through instruction (Kirk, 2010). Öhman & Quennerstedt (2008) found that a clear message was communicated in Swedish PE: ‘Be active and work up a sweat’.
Although the research on physical education in Norway is growing, not much is known about how teachers actually teach PE. Aasland, Walseth & Engelsrud (2016) found that PE was rooted in ideas and practices from military, sports and exercise physiology discourses, rather than from educational practices. This correspond with earlier research that have indicated that the way PE in Norway is taught seem to favor students who are involved in competitive youth sports (Säfvenbom, Haugen & Bulie, 2012) and that PE by teachers is perceived as a subject for ‘physical activity’ rather than ‘learning’ (Ommundsen, 2013). Even though the knowledge about teaching in PE is limited, the literature indicate a pattern: PE teachers use a very limited variety in content and PE teachers mostly use instruction as their preferred teaching style (Mordal Moen, Westlie, Bjørke & Brattlie, 2018).
These findings on how PE is taught are in contrast with some of the intentions in curriculum. According to the curriculum, Norwegian pupils are supposed to learn, experience and be stimulated to experiment, and ‘teaching in the subject shall contribute to helping the pupils experience joy, inspiration and sense of mastery by being physically active and by interacting with others’. Moreover, the curriculum includes numerous specific learning objects that pupils are supposed to master. (Udir, 2015, p. 2).
The existing research on PE in the Norwegian context has predominantly been descriptive. Research aiming at developing and/or changing PE teachers practice is missing. Action research have been recognized as a suitable approach for research aiming at professional development and educational change (Elliott, 1991; Somekh & Zeichner, 2009). Based on what we do know about how PE teachers practice, and the lack of research aiming at changing practice, the study presented here seek to answer the following research questions:
How can participating in an action research project enhance teacher’s reflections about their teaching?
Wackerhausen`s (2008) ‘anatomical structure of reflection’ has been used to discuss how reflection during the action research cycles has been essential in developing teachers practice.
According to Wackerhausen (2008) there are some common features across all the different definitions of reflection, namely what he labels as an anatomical structure. He argue that when we reflect, we always reflect on something; there will always bean object of reflection. Wackerhausen continue by suggesting that we will always reflect with something, such as concepts, assumptions and knowledge. Furthermore, he suggests that when we reflect we will always reflect from something, e.g. interests, motivations and values. Finally, Wacherhausen underline that our reflection will always take place within certain contexts. For instance, a reflection within a reflective community will be different from an individual’s own reflection.
Wackerhausen`s framework provide an useful understanding of how reflection always is on something, with something, from something and within a specific context.
Action research was utilized in this project to facilitate teacher’s reflection about their existing practice, as well as for the process of changing practice. Three trained PE teachers participated in the study. The study was conducted in a primary school located in an average big Norwegian city. First, individual interviews with the teachers was conducted. These interviews was transcribed and analyzed through an inductive thematic analysis in order to identify particular aspects about teaching that the teachers experienced as challenging. Semi-structured group interviews with pupils was also conducted. After this, researcher and teachers met in a first workshop to discuss the findings, and to start designing the first intervention period. Together, teachers and researcher agreed to teach through the cooperative learning model. A couple of months later, research and teachers met again to plan the first period in more detail. One unit, consisting of six lessons was planned. Finally, each teacher implemented the intervention over six to ten weeks. After each lesson, the teachers together with myself as the researcher reflected upon how they experienced the lesson and these reflections informed the following lesson using a recorder. Hence, small changes was made within the implementation period. Pupil voices, conducted through informal interviews and dialogue, was also important data for these micro-changes. After the first implementation period, researcher and teachers met to reflect upon experiences from the first period. These experiences and reflections will inform the planning of intervention period 2, which will be carried out next semester. Intervention period 2 will follow the same procedures with continuing analyses of data as described for intervention period 1, as well as the post unit workshop. After the second period, post-interviews with teachers and pupils will help analyze how the change had effected practice. Various data was collected during the process: individual teacher interviews (pre-, mid and post), workshops with teachers and researcher, semi-structured group interviews with pupils, reflective journal, critical observations and post-teaching reflective analysis. An inductive thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) was applied in order to identify themes across the data set.
The pre-interviews with the teachers suggested that teachers mainly used instruction when teaching PE. This finding was supported by the group interviews of pupils, who said that new skills mainly was introduced by the teacher showing them how to do it correctly. Both pre-interviews also showed that learning in PE in not always in the forefront. Both teachers and pupils expressed that PE was more about being physically active than learning. One pupil expressed his opinion about one learning task in which the pupils were not physical active ‘took time from the what they were supposed to do in PE – get fit’. One of the teachers expressed that he thought PE was an important subject ‘because of all the challenges in the society, with obesity, and all the technology that makes us more sedentary’. Based on the pre-interviews, teachers and researcher had several workshops in order to discuss teacher’s current practice. These workshops served as a reflective community. This reflective community served as a context of reflection (within) and helped challenge what the teachers reflected on, with and from. According to Wackerhausen, in order to change practice, habits and established practice needs to be challenged. By changing the teaching from a teacher-centered instruction to a student-centered approach through the cooperative learning model, what teachers reflected from was changed, as well as teacher`s concepts, assumptions and knowledge (with). Furthermore, what teacher`s reflected from (interests, motivations and values) was challenged by shifting the focus from merely physical activity to learning. More results and the following discussion will be presented at the conference.
Aasland, E., Walseth, K. & Engelsrud, G. (2017). The changing value of vigorous activity and the paradox of utilising exercise as punishment in physical education. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 22(5), 490-501. doi: 10.1080/17408989.2016.1268590 Clarke, V. & Braun, V. (2017). Thematic analysis. Journal of Positive Psychology, 12(3), 297-298. doi: 10.1080/17439760.2016.1262613 Elliott, J. (1991) Action research for Educational Change. Milton Keynes: Open University Press. Kirk, D. (2010) Physical Education Futures. London, UK: Routledge. Mordal Moen, K., Westlie, K., Bjørke, L. & Brattli, V.H. (2018) Når ambisjon møter tradisjon: En nasjonal kartleggingsstudie av kroppsøvingsfaget i grunnskolen (5.-10.trinn). In press Ohman, M. & Quennerstedt, M. (2008). Feel Good--Be Good: Subject Content and Governing Processes in Physical Education. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 13(4), 365-379. doi: 10.1080/17408980802353339 Ommundsen, Y. (2013). Fysisk-motorisk ferdighet gjennom kroppsøving – et viktig bidrag til elevenes allmenndanning og læring i skolen. Norsk pedagogisk tidsskrift, 97(2), 155-166 Säfvenbom, R., Haugen, T. & Bulie, M. (2014). Attitudes toward and motivation for PE. Who collects the benefits of the subject? Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, doi: 10.1080/17408989.2014.892063 Somekh, B. & Zeichner, K. (2009). Action Research for Educational Reform: Remodelling Action Research Theories and Practices in Local Contexts. Educational Action Research, 17(1), 5-21. doi: 10.1080/09650790802667402 Wackerhausen, S. (2015). Erfaringsrom, handlingsbåren kunnskap og refleksjon. In McGuirck, J. & Methi, J. (Ed), Praktisk kunnskap som profesjonsforskning. Bergen: Fagbokforlaget Utdanningsdirektoratet [Udir] (2015). Læreplan i kroppsøving. Retrieved from http://www.udir.no/kl06/KRO1-04
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