Teaching for understanding in hungarian physical education classes: observation of pe teachers and viewpoints of students

Por: Jozsef Bognar, Laszlo Toth e Marina Salvara.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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Hungarian researchers as early as in the 1960’s looked at problem solving skills, purposeful thinking, self-constructing knowledge, and the information’s real world applications as one of the main purposes in the teaching-learning process (Burka and Kovács, 1961). As of today, even the best students seem to lack the skills to apply their knowledge into an unfamiliar setting and into the practical world (B. Németh, 2000; Csapó, 2001). That is why checking for understanding, students’ purposeful thinking, (Gordon, 2001), pragmatic skills, the real world experience (Takács, Takács; 2000), and learner-centered instruction also became popular topics today in the Hungarian mainstream pedagogy and physical education pedagogy. It is also a very important objective of the PE teachers to provide students not only with the necessary psychomotor skills, but the cognitive, emotional, and social aspects as well (Burka, 1970; Metzler, 1999). The purpose of our study was to determine 1) how our university’s student teacher coordinators use purposeful teaching in order to facilitate students’ thinking, problem solving skills, and all around understanding. It was also our goal to explore how these concepts were perceived in their PE classes by 7th and 8th grade students.


The student teacher coordinators’ observation tool consisted of 17 items. We observed 74 PE classes, and looked for verbal and nonverbal. Students in the sample of 15 schools answered our open-ended questions. Questions were focused on their all around perception of the PE learning experiences. Frequencies, descriptive data, and non-parametric statistics were used in the analyses.

Results and conclusions

The results show that the use of questions, meaningful feedback on thinking, problem solving and decision making skills, checking for understanding did not played an important role. Altogether purposeful teaching for student understanding and meaningful physical activity did not seem to accomplish in most cases. Physical education in most cases could very well be improved to meet today’s learning expectations.


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