Developing Pedagogy for Exercise Science in Tertiary Physical Education programmes in the Aotearoa New Zealand Context
This project investigated exercise science curriculum content for physical education/teacher education (PETE) students and develops practical recommendations to assist tertiary organisations and their staff in the development of pedagogies suitable for the enhancement of learning in the exercise sciences.
- Dr Nick Draper: Senior Lecturer and Programme Co-ordinator for Physical Education, School of Sciences and Physical Education, University of Canterbury.
- Ian Culpan: Associate Professor and Head of the School of Sciences and Physical Education, University of Canterbury.
- Susannah Stevens: School of Sciences and Physical Education, University of Canterbury.
Funded 2008 – 2010 by Ako Aotearoa, Southern Regional Hub
Contemporary teacher education (pre-service and in-service professional development) necessitates beginning and experienced teachers to have a sound content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge base. Essentially these knowledge bases are influenced markedly by New Zealand Curriculum requirements including senior school qualifications, such as the National Certificate in Education Achievement (NCEA). In New Zealand, for physical education teaching, the two documents The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) (Ministry of Education, 2007), and Health and Physical Education in the New Zealand Curriculum (NZHPE) (Ministry of Education, 1999) with NCEA provide a framework which outlines the learning requirements for every New Zealand school student. This framework in turn provides clear content and pedagogical knowledge’s that physical education teachers need to have.
For physical education in schools Health and Physical Education in the New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 1999) and its revised counter-part The New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007) provided a radical departure from traditional and previous school physical education programmes (Burrows, 2004; Culpan, 1996, 2000; Culpan & Bruce, 2007). This radical departure has necessitated New Zealand physical education/teacher education (PETE) programmes to explore and utilise pedagogies that better address teaching and learning in physical education (Culpan, 2005; Culpan & Bruce, 2007). Culpan & Bruce (2007) and Culpan & Grant (2007) suggest the exercise sciences may have lagged behind in the development of fresh pedagogical thinking. It is could perhaps be argued that exercise science within the tertiary physical education domain needs to draw on the pedagogies associated with other aspects of the movement culture and apply them more systematically to the exercise sciences.
The lessons learned from science education per se, particularly around constructivism and other cognitive theories provide a useful genesis for this study. These provide a useful starting point for the investigation into exercise sciences future pedagogical development. Hipkins et al. (2002) in their review of research on effective pedagogies in science education report that for effective pedagogies to be employed students need to be given opportunities to link existing ideas and beliefs to real experiences in order to develop content knowledge. The first step in this process is to determine what are the pedagogies presently being utilised. This first step gives rise to the purpose of this study.
The purpose of this research project was to contribute to the Ako Aotearoa vision by:
- Identifying the existing exercise science curriculum content for physical education/teacher education (PETE) students
- Generating data regarding the pedagogical methods employed in the delivery of exercise science in physical education
- Providing base-line data regarding student knowledge in exercise science and preparedness to teach during their PETE training
- Developing a set of practical recommendations that will assist tertiary organisations and their staff in the development of pedagogies suitable for the enhancement of learning in the exercise sciences.
This research project adopted mixed method approach (qualitative and quantitative) and involved three stages. In the first stage, 3 New Zealand universities who teach the exercise sciences within a physical education context were identified. A document analysis was conducted across the 3 universities to address the guiding question: what is the curriculum content for the exercise sciences component of your PETE programme? Data gathered from the document analysis was examined to identify any emerging themes and patterns in the PETE content.
The second stage of the research project focussed on pedagogical methods used by the same 3 universities who teach exercise science within their PETE programmes. The guiding question used for this stage was: What are the pedagogical methods employed in the delivery of exercise science in PETE programmes? A qualitative case study approach using semi-structured interviews was used with 6 staff to gather data and identify themes and patterns.
In the third stage of the study a quantitative survey (N = 169, males =78, females =91, Yr.1 = 36, Yr. 2 = 73, Yr.3 = 37, Yr. 4 = 23) and qualitative semi-structured interviews were used with 29 student volunteers (13 year 1/2 students and 16 year 3/4 students) to determine how their knowledge in the exercise sciences matched with their self evaluation of their preparedness to teach. Quantitative survey data gathered was statistically analysed to determine differences for students between universities. Thematic analysis was used to analyse interview data to establish student’s preparedness to teach.
Stage 1 - Guiding question: what is the curriculum content for the exercise sciences component of your PETE programme?
The data revealed that:
- The content of the exercise sciences within each degree structure of the 3 universities is as follows. University 1 has multiple pathways in their degree structure from which students can take anywhere from 21-46% of papers in exercise sciences within the total degree. For University 2 students in their degree take 17% of papers in exercise sciences within their total degree structure. For University 3, students in their degree take 21% of papers in exercise sciences within their total degree structure.
- The sub-disciplines within the exercises sciences across the 3 universities were very similar however University 1 had a more traditional approach to the design and structure of the sub-disciplines. Universities 2 and 3 have a more contemporary approach to the design and structure of their courses and there was evidence of the development of courses had established interactions between the sub-disciplines. The sub-disciplines across all 3 universities were: anatomy, exercise/sport physiology, motor learning/control, biomechanics, sport psychology, human growth and development, nutrition, sport injuries and strength and conditioning.
- There was evidence that the extra time devoted to the exercise sciences in University 1 resulted in more content depth in each of the sub-disciplines.
Stage 2 - Guiding Question: What are the pedagogical models employed in the delivery of exercise science in PETE programmes?
The data revealed that:
- Staff teaching in the exercises sciences drew on a range of teaching approaches and activities but there was little evidence of staff utilising particular pedagogical models. Instead the data revealed that the staff used an eclectic approach to pedagogy. The eclectic approaches included: direct instruction, group work, reciprocal learning, individual tasks, and student centred activities.
- In the semi-structured interviews it became apparent that staff’s ability to articulate their pedagogical approach varied markedly. Two of the 6 staff could identify specific pedagogical approaches that related to pedagogical models.
Stage 3 - Guiding question: How student knowledge in the exercise sciences matched with their self evaluation of their preparedness to teach?
The data revealed that:
- Results from the quantitative student content knowledge survey are presented in the main report. There were non-significant differences between the universities with regard to content knowledge of the students.
- The means and standard deviations by year group are shown in the main report. Student content knowledge, as demonstrated through the survey, increased by year of study. There was a significant difference by year group (F3, 162 = 9.34, p <0.0005). The results of further post-hoc testing revealed that year 4 students scored significantly higher than year 1 and 2 students. In addition, year 3 students scored significantly higher than year 1 students. There was a non-significant difference for the interaction effect of university by year group.
- As with the results from the survey, qualitative data also revealed that student knowledge of the exercises sciences increased over the duration of their training. Exercise science content was well covered across all 3 universities but it appears that student’s felt that exposure to school teaching situations was an important factor in the development of their ability to understand and apply this content knowledge.
- Student confidence with the content of exercise science appeared to increase over time however this confidence was not necessarily an indicator of their preparedness to teach. Students’ preparedness to teach was directly related to exposure to school teaching contexts and the establishment of the relationship between exercise sciences and curriculum requirements. The application of content knowledge seemed to be a critical factor in the preparedness to teach.
- That PETE programmes need to ensure that students are given appropriate opportunities to facilitate the application of exercise science knowledge in appropriate and authentic contexts.
- That to facilitate student’s preparedness to teach strong relationships need to be made between exercise science content knowledge and specific content requirements of the school curriculum.
- That planners of exercise science programmes within PETE further explore opportunities to integrate content across the sub-disciplines.
- That university teachers of the exercise sciences in PETE contexts actively explore the contemporary developments in teaching and learning with a view to the implementation of specific pedagogies for the exercise sciences.
- That university teachers of exercise science need to explore and consider the evidence from the research on science education with a view to implementing constructivist principles into their teaching programmes.
This study has provided useful data regarding the delivery of exercise science in PETE programmes. Proposed dissemination of this data will include several peer reviewed journal articles and presentations at national conferences. It is anticipated that these articles and presentations will provide insight into the ‘pedagogy of possibility’ for the exercise science, in particular at the researchers’ university where specific professional development opportunities will be examined.
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