Learning To Teach Game: Pupils Responses

Por: Clara Tan e Joan Fry.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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In the pervasive educational climate of accountability, Graham [2] has argued that physical education (PE) providers must consider students’ experiences and views in order to design curriculum to meet their needs. In the general context of curriculum innovation (a tactical approach [3]to teaching games [the GCA]), teachers, teacher educators and curriculum planners would be more effective if they understood how young people experienced their lessons. In the particular case of the authors (Singapore PE teacher educators) who inter alia prepare student teachers (STs) to implement government curriculum initiatives, the question begged as to school pupils’ affective responses to a new PE syllabus as taught by STs on practicum. This is an analysis of what primary/elementary children felt and thought about their experiences in a GCA unit.


An open-ended questionnaire probed three research questions (RQs): "What did the children see as the GCA module focus, or purpose?" (RQ1); "What did the children see as the GCA module’s learning outcomes?" (RQ2); and "What were the children’s feelings about GCA lessons?" (RQ3). The upper-primary school children completed the survey in two parts: at unit outset (items pertaining to ‘prior PE’) and at unit-end (items pertaining to the GCA unit). Of further interest was "Were the children’s experiences similar across level of ST competence [Distinction, Credit and Pass]?" (RQ4). After the forms were sorted by ST level, the items were open-, then axially-, coded in order to identify and dimensionalize [1] key concepts associated with the children’s GCA experiences and so address the RQs. Between and across group (Tn=101+99+98) comparisons generated dominant salient themes and in part differentiated between the pupil groups.


Although almost all children reported favourably of their prior PE, they were extremely positive about the GCA unit. It was motivating: overwhelmingly "fun", exciting and to many challenging. The GCA was seen as different from prior PE, and ST competence was an agent of perceived difference (D=83%, C=73%, P=65%). However, those differences were seen to be mostly in unit content, not in teaching process as might be expected. The activity medium was a significant factor in children liking or not liking the GCA lessons. Fewer children reported not liking particular aspects than liking. The GCA reported key outcomes were skill, specific sport and conceptual.

Discussion/ Conclusions

The children provided interesting insights into GCA teaching. It was evident that the tactical approach [1] provided a lesson structure that the children found interesting and exciting. Although there is considerable debate in the literature about the relative benefits of tactical and technical approaches to games teaching, these children saw that learning skills and learning to play were the units’ foci. They strongly reinforced the notion that play is a key motivator in learning games and sports [4]. These children indicated that small group work and game play are powerful learning media and point to directions for inservice education in the local context. Their strong reporting about the range of learning. Implications about teacher education are drawn from the students’ favourable and unfavourable responses to tactical teaching.


  1. Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.
  2. Graham, G. (1995a). Physical education through students’ eyes and in students’ voices: Introduction. JTPE, 14:363-371.
  3. Mitchell, S., et al. (1994) The Physical Educator, 51(1):21-28
  4. Thorpe, R. D. (1992). In T. Williams, L. Almond, & A. Sparkes (Eds.), Sport and physical activity: Moving toward excellence (Proceedings of the AIESEP World Convention, Loughborough, UK) (209-218). London: Spon.



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