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The figure of obesity children is rapidly increasing due to their unhealthy lifestyle and eating habit such as addicted to fast food, video games, and online games which occur in most of the children community nowadays. Unhealthy lifestyle caused most of the children dislike physical bodily movement and lack of physical fitness. A number of researchers involved in teaching physical classes always emphasize the relationship between decreasing of participation in physical activity towards increasing of health-related risks such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease (Domangue, 2009). We as physical teachers have to understand factors leading to children physical inactivity. It is very important to understand why youngsters withdraw themselves from physical activity as they get matured. In physical education classes, fitness testing act as a very crucial component which help to create awareness of health concerns on physical inactivity cases especially among children (Domangue, 2009). Physical activity is defined as any type (mild, moderate, vigorous) of bodily movement for instance jumping rope, soccer, weight lifting, running, walking, taking stairs and others which can be our daily routine activities, recreational activities, as well as sport activities. Literally, health-related physical fitness means physical activity that involved mild or adverse physical body movement that contribute to their general body health (Karinharju, 2005). School-based physical class explains when participant is physically active, heart pumping rate increases and produces heavier breathing than normal breathing. Unfortunately, a lot of schools neglected physical education class and only focus on physical class. In fact, physical education and physical activity are equally important elements that contribute towards children health development.
In Silverman et.al. (2008) paper stated youth fitness testing was designed to embarrass those children who are less capable in physical activity. Those children who cannot perform well especially those obese children will be insulted by their peers and eventually they will withdraw themselves from involving in physical activity. We should not turn children down in physical activity by right as a school teacher we should help children to cultivate interest in physical activity. For instance, a plump children will feel embarrass while doing stretching. They might unable to reach the desired point and will be laughed by their peers. Girls might not like to play soccer, running around the field fighting for a ball. They might prefer jumping rope. So while designing fitness testing, more consideration should be taken such as gender, body size and fitness. As a physical teacher, we should help students to learn more about fitness and physical activity in order to promote positive attitudes on physical activity.
I further belief if fitness testing was used in positive and appropriate ways it will enhance students’ physical educational experience as well as promote good attitudes and interest. There is few discussion on fitness testing has been done in recent years and the discussions were basically taken in three forms. First, some researchers suggest discontinuing school-based youth fitness testing in physical education program. Because school teachers are more focus on students’ activity performance instead of health-related fitness (Silverman, 2008; Rowland, 1995; Corbin et al., 1995). Second, researchers suggested that school-based physical classes should emphasize on educational aspects. Tests and teaching should carried out together to help to improve students’ fitness and knowledge (Silverman, 2008; Cale & Harris, 2002; Corbin & Pangrazi, 1993). Lastly, thorough examination of student fitness achievement testing is needed before designing and making decision on the future of physical class context and tests. (Silverman, 2008; Cale et al., 2007; Corbin et al., 1995; Keating & Silverman, 2004).
To be physically fit, one has to be physically active. Definition for physical fitness is an “adaptive state that varies with the individual’s growth and maturity status and with habitual activity and lifestyle” (Domangue, 2009; Malina, Bouchard & Bar-Or, 2004). Furthermore, physical fitness can be categorized into two categories which is health-related fitness and performance-related fitness. Health-related fitness is fitness that everyone needs which contributes to maintain and improve health status of our body. Performance-related fitness refers to skilled athletes or performers who need to be success or excel in their performance in sports activities. Basically, health-related fitness is assessed by measuring cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, muscular endurance, strength, and body fat content or body mass index (BMI) (Hale, 2005; Corbin, 2005).
Rowland, 1995 drew a conclusion that physical teachers should not stop fitness testing, but should implement fitness tests in the physical education curriculum. Children and adults have different used of fitness test. So, while planning physical activities, this should be taken in concern. Children cannot decide whether to participate in fitness testing or how to use the results of those physical assessments. Whereas, adults are able to decide and choose whether to use fitness testing as a summative assessment to check their current health-related fitness levels of how fit they are at the period of time or as formative assessment to continuously assess health-related fitness level in order to modify fitness program as part of program planning. Adults who decided to go for either formal (with trainers) or informal training (self-training) already ready and have some commitment to do physical activity. But children do not have such commitment and do not know how to make decision. Therefore, youth fitness testing can have opposite result if it is not perform appropriately, and will have consequences to develop negative attitude and patterns of physical activity among children. But, youth fitness testing should play an important role in school physical education setting in order to enhance students fitness (Silverman, 2008; Bar-Or, 1993; Cale & Harris, 2002; Whitehead, Pemberton & Corbin, 1990), and implementation of fitness testing should be examined often to prevent any deviation that will result in the misuse of fitness tests (Silverman, 2008).
In order to have positive impact of physical testing in school, silverman has suggested some guidelines to implement a positive impact fitness test. First, youth fitness testing should be integrated as a part of fitness instruction in curriculum. Although assessment is important goal of teaching but without a solid curriculum it is merely testing (Stewart, Elliot, Boyce & Block, 2005). Second, fitness testing result should be used by teachers to assess their fitness instruction and enhance students’ learning (Corbin, 1981) while physical classes. Long-term and short-term outcomes of fitness testing of children should be taken into concern by teachers and curriculum planners planning for future activities. Third, the point of having physical class is for students to improve their body fitness and towards meeting their healthy zone standard. We should teach students not to assume that fitness testing will automatically increase their physical activity levels but it is just to test their body fitness. It is important to understand their body fitness and help to design future activities. If fitness testing was used appropriately and used as an educational tool, it has the potential to promote physical activity and also help to improve health-related fitness. In many schools in Malaysia, students are only required to be tested on fitness test once in a year. Compare to academic tests physical test is far lesser. During fitness tests, Instructional time spent on fitness testing should not be ignored. Without positively increasing youngsters’ physical activity levels and health-related fitness does not make sound use of fitness tests.
Health-related fitness testing should be carried out in school, and it is important to include both physical activity and also health-related fitness in physical education class so that student will able to understand the difference and complementary nature of the concepts (Silverman, 2008). Health-related fitness has to be taught as part of curriculum so that student able to understand the concept and the purpose of the test. Health-related fitness testing also can be used as a tool to examine concepts and components of health-related fitness and physical activity. For example, while teacher introducing the sit-up test, teacher can discuss on the anatomy of the body and the function of the muscles involved and how the body perform the activity and how to improve their strength and endurance. Provide important information and knowledge while doing the activity, student can understand better the purpose of having each test and also prevent to get injured. Without proper knowledge, students are more tend to get injured, due to lack of knowledge of proper posture undergoing particular activity. Teacher has to educate students the correct posture and way to perform those activity to protect our body muscle and anatomy. Lacking important knowledge might influence students’ performance, motivation and interest as well. Eventually, they will cultivate negative attitude and their bad experiences in physical education will influence their attitudes towards future assessment and physical activity and eventually cause them to withdraw from physical activity.
Another reason why teaching both health-related fitness and physical activity is important, because the current examination of physical activity assessment program may mislead students into thinking that regular participation in any mild to moderate physical activity for 30-60 minutes is sufficient to maintain their health. NASPE recommends those children aged 5 to 12 years should be physically active for at least 60 minutes to several hours of per day (Domangue, 2009). As children get matured, the recommended duration for physical activity varies. Adolescents need lesser hour to be physically active compare to children. They need only 30-60 minutes daily (Yesalonia, 2009). Unfortunately, many school-aged students have too little opportunity to participate in these recommended physical activities during school hour. In this situation, students are required to balance their physical activity levels outside the school as extra-curriculum.
Outside the regular school hours, many children could be physically active in sedentary activities such as homework, computers and video-games which children only required to sit on chair. This can affect activity levels of school-aged children. Perhaps the most important time for children to be active is after school is between three and six p.m. But often children nowadays are not, they will rather spend time on sedentary activities or their academic curriculum. Parents have press more on their academic rather than their physical achievements and also safety issues parents stop letting children to involve in physical activities. . As a school teacher, we should encourage parents to allow their children to be physically active instead of filling all those active hours with tuitions, piano classes and homework. Children can have opportunity to be active after school hours by participating in extra-curricular activity programs, such as basket ball, soccer, as well as community-based activity programs. Remember, physical activity and health-related fitness is both equally important. We should not too emphasize on physical achievement and ignore the basic understanding on health-related fitness.
Through the health-related fitness testing, teacher is responsible to educate students the purpose of participating in a variety of physical activity form and methods to improve corresponding health-related fitness components as well as the recommended duration in performing physical activity. Health-related fitness testing is an excellent context to teach students to examine on both health-related fitness and physical activity concept. Students can understand health-related fitness not only improve their health level (Silverman, 2008; Simons-Morton et al., 1988) but also their cognitive skills (Hillman, Castelli, & Buck 2005). School-based physical classes may not done an adequate job in teaching students on the importance of health-related fitness or have taught separately with physical activity. If health-related fitness testing is done separately, there is no way that student will develop the knowledge that can be developed from an understanding of both health-related fitness and physical activity assessment.
Teacher should teach assessment skills to students. If student able to use fitness test for self-assessment, they are able to use the understanding of health-related fitness learned during physical class and able to plan their own physical activity programs according to their desired target. Students were taught that fitness testing can be used as formative assessment to develop and modify their physical activity routines to help them have the knowledge to start an appropriate level. Assessment skills also able to help students keep participating in physical activity if they know what their expected goal is. The formative testing experience will reinforce fitness gains and also enhance additional motivation for students to continue involved in physical activity (Silverman, 2008). Students learn to compare the scores with their previous performance and to design a suitable goals and activity according to their body level. Applications of appropriate use of fitness tests taught in class equip students with the knowledge and skills to participate and to select appropriate physical activity and help them to perform self-assessment.
To incorporating health-related fitness assessment into fitness education, teacher should teach students the purpose of doing the fitness test or other fitness-based activity. Student should understand the instructional content before performing the test. Then, fitness testing should be formative. Teacher should plan the educational experience to use fitness testing results to design future activity for students while also teaching students that health-related fitness can be improved and assessment is integral to that process. Another way is to conduct fitness education by infusing fitness lessons into curriculum. This can be done by relating each activity done to fitness. So, student will have better understanding on how those activities related and improve their body fitness, why that aspect of fitness is important. With that knowledge, students are able to understand and eventually improve their performance on that activity. For example, students participate in school gymnasium should know that gymnasium activity are exercising their heart and will help make them healthy and good for their heart. They should know the health-related fitness component is called aerobic fitness and helps to prevent heart disease. With this understanding, students were being more motivated on physical activity. The use of fitness test helps students to understand health-related fitness and how testing can be used to improve and enhance fitness.
Infusing health-related fitness test in physical education can increase student knowledge, attitudes and fitness. In primary schools students, teacher will help students in assessment and plan their future physical activity, but in secondary school, after fitness testing, students could provide an analysis of their strengths and weaknesses and develop a fitness program suitable to them. Teacher could use variety of teaching strategies such as reciprocal teaching, self-check against predetermined rubrics and assessments such as using the analysis and plan for providing feedback to the students (Silverman, 2008) to help students to improve and also to monitor their program.
Planning and assessment of physical activity is necessary in order to improve students’ learning experience and to meet the goals of instructions (Silverman, 2008). Without assessment, we are unable to know our standard and level. Teachers act as a reflection as a form of assessment to assess fitness education the result of the assessment is for the teacher to do self-assessment and reflect on the lesson. Teacher means act as a problem solvers (i.e., design the content or lesson to achieve goal and to assess achievement of the goal, and whether there are other better ways to enhance instruction). Second step is student learning. Fitness testing result is to examine student learning from multiple perspectives (increase various component of health-related fitness, increases in physical activity, attitude toward fitness and physical activity). This health-related fitness test may tell how fit students are, ignoring the fitness improvement, physical activity and attitude development. Next is the appropriate use of accountability for assessing fitness education. Principals should be aware that fitness testing may lead negative consequences. Always ensure that the test is use appropriately and must be used within the context and perform a complete fitness education program if we want students to live in physically active lives. Assessment and accountability program should design appropriately and examine from time to time being as one aspect of student assessment and physical grading.
As a school physical education teacher, I strongly believe that health-related fitness tests that are used in an appropriate educational manner can be a useful tool to enhance student learning and also health level. Although there is wide variation in the capabilities of students, the main purpose of fitness instruction should be that every student can work towards being fit and reach healthy level. While designing the test, physical class teachers should consider those less capability students and help them to improve by educating health-related fitness. The main focus on physical education should be on evolving fitness process, students’ participation regardless on performance and result achieved. A well-planned physical fitness program with a positive classroom environment is very crucial to yield positive attitude, interest and motivation of students on physical activity especially for those less capability. Teachers should put more efforts on those students who may feel fitness testing is an embarrassment. Silverman (2008) suggested that assessment methods can move from group administration of test to pairs testing or self-assess. It can help to utilize time better, develop self-assessment skills and less embarrassing for most students.
In a nutshell, I agree to infuse health-related fitness in physical class. Both physical activity and health-related fitness is equaled important to enhance body fitness and health. In order to have positive outcome, physical educator should designed an appropriate program for students in order to improve their fitness and encourage them to participate in physical activity and not to emphasize on performance achieved. Educators have to alert those students who are less capable in physical activities and encourage them, support them to involve in physical activity and educate them on health-related fitness. So that they can understand why they need to do that particular activity and what is the benefits of doing that. Educators should stress more on health-related fitness rather than performance-related fitness.
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