Active For Life?- Researching Teachers Professional Needs

Por: R. Brown.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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Introduction
In July 2001 the South Australian Government released Active for Life, an eight point, $16 million, strategy plan to be
managed by the Department of Education, Training and Employment (DETE) and designed to ‘increase physical
activity levels of children and young people while enhancing the development of positive attitudes towards participation
in lifelong regular physical activity’ [1]. One of the strategies contained in this document included professional
development for teachers of junior secondary students ‘to enhance their skills, knowledge, abilities and confidence in
the area of physical education and sport... and to provide support in the development of school based physical activity
plans’ [1]. It was consequently decided that a study into the professional development needs of teachers of Physical
Education and Sport in DETE schools be implemented.

Methods
The research plan used a multi-method approach, initially proceeding with a state-wide survey to gain information and
raise issues relevant to the professional development needs of teachers of Junior Secondary Physical Education and
Sport in DETE schools. A Teacher survey was sent to every teacher, and a Coordinator survey to every school. The
information provided was reviewed by a Research Group of representative teachers, which combined with further data
analysis resulted in the completion of the report in August 2002.

Results
The Teachers’ Survey indicated the highest preference for professional development in the following areas:
Innovative teaching methods, Fitness activities and programs, Contemporary teaching methods, Utilising technologies,
Sports skills development, Engaging students: strategies for motivation, Integrating health and physical education,
Sports and games’ playing, Outdoor & adventure activities, Assessment & reporting strategies, and Evaluating program
effectiveness.
The Coordinators’ Survey recorded their views on how their faculties currently, and should in the future, engage in
professional development activities to enhance their programs, with the following results:

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Discussion / Conclusions
The research clearly indicated that the coordinators believed that their faculties engage in a broad range of professional
development activities to enhance their Physical Education programs, and should continue this commitment in the
future. While it appears that current activities are often locally driven and conducted, the coordinators advocated that
future professional development should include more collaborative and ‘global’ perspectives, such as state wide
networking with other faculties. Comments recorded by participants indicated that future activities needed to utilise the
most advanced professional development practices, access relevant facilitation from DETE and the professional
community, and be appropriately resourced to both counter disadvantages created by time, isolation and economic
restrictions and also enable significant, long term initiatives be developed and sustained. It is clear that considerably
more analysis and strategy development are required on the data, to enable the Active for Life’ professional
development strategy to maximise its benefits.

References
[1]. Department of Education, Training and Employment (2001), Active for Life, Adelaide, DETE.

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