Examination physical education: adhering to pedagogies of the classroom when coming in from the cold

2015-11-19T15:05:22Z (GMT) by Ashley Casey Toni M. O'Donovan
Background: Green and Thorburn claim that examination physical education now holds a dominant place in both the UK's national discourse and in the lives and careers of many teachers. Despite the move towards the academicisation of physical education and the proliferation of accredited qualifications in a number of countries, both of which have been celebrated by many physical educators, there is little research that investigates the actual process of teaching such courses. Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore how pedagogical change in examination physical education using collaborative learning was experienced by, and impacted on, pupils and teachers in one school during a year long, assessed unit of Advanced Subsidiary Level physiology and anatomy that formed part of a wider examination course in physical education. Methodology: The study took place in a comprehensive secondary school in the South East of England. With support from his head of department, a teacher attempted to modify his pedagogical approach away from the didactic approach that dominated his classroom-based teaching of AS Level physical education. Interviews were undertaken with the teacher and the head of department (HoD) both before the start of the course and after the exam results were published. Additionally, each student (n = 5) was interviewed and a wiki (which had been set up as a platform for collaborative learning within the group) was analysed for content and usage. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and each was independently analysed by the researchers. Data were subject to inductive analysis and constant comparison and key themes were drawn from this process. Findings: The paper examines the concerns about performance and engagement of pupils with AS physical education and interrogates the teachers' beliefs about the underpinning pedagogical issues in the teaching of this course. The teachers' expressed concern about the pedagogical knowledge and subject matter content knowledge for anatomy and physiology units. The process of changing the traditional teaching styles adopted for this unit is explored from both teacher and pupil perspectives. Finally, we consider the impact of the pedagogical changes on teachers, pupils and examination results.