18 SES 08, Parallel Paper Session
Parallel Paper Session
This paper reports findings from a survey undertaken with Secondary-aged pupils (11-18 years) in England and discusses students’ attitudes towards school and PE. In addition, it explores some of the ways in which young people believe PE, and their learning in PE, could be improved. A number of studies have reported that adults often do not participate in physical activity because of negative physical education experiences during adolescence (Simons-Morton et al., 1987) and that enjoyment of physical education at school can be a precursor to lifelong physical activity (Carlson, 1995). Such findings are especially pertinent given that a number of research studies have found that physical activity levels drop throughout the teenage years (e.g. Brodersen et al., 2007) and that attitudes towards physical education/activity do, indeed, decline during this stage (e.g. Subramaniam & Silverman, 2007). Furthermore, Luke & Sinclair (1991) argue that, given these findings, attempts to understand students’ attitudes towards PE are important and can help teachers to improve their physical education programs, whilst Silverman and Subramaniam (1999) discuss the ways in which attitudes, whilst difficult to change, are indeed malleable. Given that attitudes can be changed, it certainly makes sense to understand more about what students do and do not like about their physical education lessons and it is not surprising that a number of studies have already been conducted in this area. For example, studies from within and outside of the UK have revealed that young people are more likely to have a favourable attitude towards PE if a variety of activities are offered (Rikard & Banville, 2006) and if the teacher is liked and behaves in a professional manner (Figley, 1985). Likewise, factors leading to alienation from PE have been identified as including boredom, repetition and a lack of meaningful work (Fox & Biddle, 1988) as well as an overly competitive class environment (Portman, 1992).
The research draws on social constructivist theories of learning, with their explicit focus on individuals’ active involvement in making sense of their social experiences through interactions with others and their environment (e.g. Kirk & MacDonald, 1998), to facilitate an understanding of the young people’s views of both their school and physical education lessons. Moreover, it draws upon broader theories of alienation and positive youth development (e.g. Carlson, 1995; Holt, 2008) to explain some of the specific findings around young people’s disengagement and disillusionment in relation to both physical education and the broader school context. In particular, these theories are perceived to be particularly useful in understanding the sense of meaningless and powerlessness expressed by some individuals within the survey, as well as providing a structure to frame a number of key recommendations for improved teaching practice.
Brodersen, N.H., Steptoe, A., Boniface, D.R. and Wardle, J. (2007) `Trends in Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour in Adolescence: Ethnic and Socioeconomic Differences', British Journal of Sports Medicine, 41(3), 140-4. Carlson, T.B. (1995) We Hate Gym: Student Alienation From Physical Education, Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 14, 467-477. DFES & DCMS (2004). High Quality PE and Sport for Young People. Nottingham: DFES Publications. Figley, G.E. (1985) Determinants of Attitudes Toward Physical Education, Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 4, 229-240. Fox, K., & Biddle, S. (1988). The Child Perspective physical education: part 2. Children’s participation motives, British Journal of Physical Education, 19, 79-82. Holt, N. (Ed) 2008. Positive youth development through sport. London: Routledge. Kirk, D., & MacDonald, D. (1998). Situated learning in Physical Education, Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 17, 376-387. Luke, M.D. & Sinclair, G.D. (1991) Gender Differences in Adolescents’ Attitudes Toward School Physical Education, Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 11, 31-46. Portman, P.A. (1995) Who is having fun in physical education classes? Experience of six grade students in elementary and middle schools, Journal of Teaching in physical Education, 14, 445-453. Rikard, G. & Banville, D. (2006) High School Student attitudes about physical education, Sport, Education and Society, 11 (4), 385-400. Silverman, S. & Subramaniam, P.R. (1999) Student Attitude Toward Physical Education and Physical Activity: A Review of Measurement Issues and Outcomes, Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 19, 97-125. Simons-Morton, B.G., O’Hara, N.M., Simons-Morton, D.G. & parcel, G.S. (1987) Children and fitness: A public health perspective. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 58, 295-302. Subramaniam, P. & Silverman, S. (2007) Middle School students’ attitudes toward physical education, Teaching and Teacher Education, 23(5), 602-11. Williams, A. (2007) Problematising Physical Education Practice: Pupil Experience as a Focus for Reflection, European Journal of Physical Education, 1(1-2), 19-35.
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