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Those who cannot work, teach. Those who cannot teach, teach Physical Education. This old adage has led to the belief that Physical Educators are not providing the proper service that today's youth require. Physical Education is much more than simply supervising a few dozen children as they participate in various sports. A well designed Physical Education curriculum, taught by a trained, knowledgeable teacher can give the students skills that will enable them to participate in sports for lifelong fitness. It also teaches them how to maintain a healthy level of fitness through participation in class activities and instruction on how to continue these activities into the future. It is this participation that must be emphasized if these skills and knowledge is to be obtained.
While engaging students in meaningful activity may not seem as if it is an especially daunting task, ensuring the academic learning time in Physical Education is a difficult, yet mandatory part of teaching students the skills for lifelong fitness. While the exact times vary, professionals tend to recommend a minimum of fifty percent of every Physical Education class be spent in meaningful activity. Engaging the students in an appropriate amount of time will ensure that the students learn skills that will enable them to participate in fitness activities for life. This will also give them the confidence they will need to want to perform these skills and actually participate in these activities. Because of this concept of academic learning time, this study was conducted to discover how the time was spent in several schools in a county in central Indiana.
Academic learning time in Physical Education has been studied very thoroughly throughout many different demographics. Due to this, much of the research of this study was based on previous research and results. The common theme of all the previous studies was that effective academic learning time was created by eliminating the management time of the class. Management time includes tasks such as getting dressed, taking attendance, transitioning from one activity to the next, and many more. To increase the activity time during class, "it seems fair to suggest that teachers should decrease management behaviors by implementing more efficient class routinesâ€¦and organize lessons with the primary goal of improving student ALT-PE" (Lacy and LaMaster 1996). When students begin to understand the routines of a given class, the transition time significantly decreases. Furthermroe, when there is less time explaining the procedures, there is more activity time allowed.
The next area commonly discussed in research of academic learning time in Physical Education was the quality of the teacher. Research has proven that when observing two teachers of varying education levels, "differences were observed in general content, subject matter content, and learner involvement categories" (Momodu 1998). Teachers with an education of a higher quality tend to have greater activity time than teachers whose education was not as thorough. By having schools hire highly qualified Physical Education teachers, students will begin to achieve a higher level of skill development due to the increased level of academic learning time.
The last issue that was most commonly discussed throughout the research and findings of academic learning time in Physical Education was how the size of the class affects the percentages of time spent on various activities. For instance, in 1991 Hastie discovered that students who were part of a class that was half the size of a typical class spent nearly ten percent more in motor appropriate activities than those students who were part of a larger class. Smaller classes naturally give students more opportunities to use equipment and have more space to develop their skills. As the number of students increases, the amount of time spent in meaningfull activity decreases drastically.
Data was collected by observing seven schools in Madison County. Three elementary, two middle schools and two high school physical education classes were all observed first hand. The center of the study focused on three areas: Management, activity time, and teacher talk time. A stop watch was used to record the time the teacher spent teaching the lesson. Data was recorded and averaged at each school. For the sake of research, every decimal was rounded to the nearest 10th. If only a certain percent of students participated in activity at one given time, the total activity time was divided to accurately reflect the maximum participation. For example, if the teacher was doing a team unit and had only two of the three teams participating in activity at one time, the total time would be divided by 2/3. Management time accounted for any time the teacher was getting out equipment, dealing with student behavior, organizing teams or transitioning activities. Management time also accounted for student inactivity. For example, when team sports were played where teams sat out, the students lost activity time. This lost time was added to management because it is time when the students are not getting meaningful instruction or participating in physical activity. Teacher talk time accounted for any instruction the teacher would give. This included the preview of the lesson, skill development, and closure.
The first site of observation had a total class time of 45 minutes. The class was observed every day of the week, twice a day. After observing this class ten times, the data was averaged to reflect teacher talk time, activity time, and management. The average time the teacher spent talking was 18 %. The average time the teacher spent managing the class and equipment was 54.2 %. The average activity time the students were engaged in physical activity was 27.8%. The total activity time lost was 27.8%. The teacher chose to do an activity where only 50% of the class was involved. The total activity time would be at 55.6% if all students were active during that time. The teacher also chose to do activities that required a lot of equipment and transitioning. Much activity time was lost due to equipment room visits, organizing teams and dealing with student misbehavior.
The second site of observation had a total class time of 40 minutes. This class was observed for two weeks, twice a day. A total of 20 class sessions were observed and averaged. The data indicated that 50.3 percent of the class consisted of physical activity. 9.6% of the class consisted of teacher talk time. 38.8% of the class dealt with management. The teacher used activities that the students were familiar with for the first week of lessons. This enabled the students to jump into activity and decrease the instruction needed. This teacher also used many objects and pieces of equipment that needed to managed. This slowed down the class because time was lost dealing with equipment. There was also a direct correlation to the size of the class and the total activity time. On average, a class of only 17 students had a total activity time of 52.7% while a class of 23 students only had 49.6%.
The third site of observation had a total class time of 50 minutes. This class was observed for 11 times over the span of two weeks. For this school, the students spent 48.6% of time engaged in physical activity. The teach talk time took up 20.2% of the class. Management consisted of 29.2% of the class. The teacher talk time was slightly higher because students were encouraged to get involved in discussion. The teacher chose cooperative activities that got the students to work together as a team and problem solve before they began the activity. Most of the management consisted of the teacher waiting for the students to be quite and ready for instruction. Much time was lost dealing with student misbehavior.
For the fourth site of observation there was an actual class time of 54 minutes. On average, only 37.2% of this class was fully engaged in physical activity. 51.8% percent consisted of management and 11% entailed instruction. The management of this school was very high for a number of different reasons. The students took attendance before they got dressed out for physical activity. After they got dressed, they waited on the bleachers for several minutes waiting for everyone to leave the locker room. The teacher also chose activities where only a portion of the class was participating. The instruction of the activities was fairly short. The students were familiar with the games that were being played and were able to jump right into them.
Research has not been concluded. Will be completed for the final paper.
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