Physical Education Curriculum Qualitative Research Essay

Introduction

Most schools have often emphasized the significance of other subjects on the school curriculum without necessarily considering physical education. This has contributed to physical education being sidelined. Children at an early age for instance need physical education so as to develop their motor skills hence the need for the subject.

It is however unfortunate that this is given the least time and priority within the school curriculum and in most of the cases those who conduct it are not well trained. The end result is the emergence of pupils and students who have poor motor skills. With inappropriate physical activity, the children become dull and this might have negative implications on their academic performance.

Belmont High School is an example of a school that has incorporated the aspects of physical education curriculum in its school philosophy. The school philosophy is to bring up active and creative students that are understanding and compassionate to others and with the appropriate character.

The school aims at ensuring that the students develop physically, psychologically, spiritually socially, morally, emotionally and even intellectually. The physical education curriculum for the school has particularly been enacted in a way that it ensures wholesome development of students.

Physical education has significantly contributed towards the realization of the school philosophy as it helps in the development of the physical aspects of the students. The students do exercise during the physical education lessons hence developing the motor skills which are vital for the physical development of the students.

The physical education curriculum also contributes to the intellection development of the children. Physical activity helps in the growth of the cerebral capillarity. By increasing the intensity of physical activity, blood circulation in all parts of the body including the brain is enhanced hence oxygen is effectively transported to all the body parts.

Nerve connections are well developed as the brain tissue is intensified. The attention span of the child is therefore increased and information is easily acquired, stored and retrieved whenever there is need. This is vital in the learning process and the student is therefore well placed in the acquisition of academic knowledge.

Through the interactions made while exercising or competing, physical education has been vital in the development of the children’s social skills hence minimizing the chances of the students engaging in unacceptable antisocial behavior. The physical education periods help the students to develop self discipline as the teachers allow the students to play the major role in the training session.

They are expected to exhibit high moral standards and during competition the students are expected to play fairly and those who lose are not expected to retaliate by unacceptable means like fighting.Physical education is supposed to enhance the development of a child as well as improve his/her physical fitness. The child improves his/her cognitive, social as well as cooperative skills

Perspectives

Research findings have indicated that there is a connection between the physical activity of a child and his/her ability to grasp academic concepts. The cost of caring for a physically fit child is fur much less than that of an unfit child. A physically fit pupil for instance is less likely to develop complications such as diabetes, obesity and other illnesses like cardiac arrest or other complications of the heart.

Most of these complications are attributed to inactivity and poor circulation of blood in the body which could easily be averted by appropriate physical activity. Physical education is therefore important to the health of the child .

Self Determination Theory

This is a theory that is based on the motivational aspects of a person and his or her personality. Physical education has a lot to do with the motivations that students get in relation to physical activity. The teachers’ attitude and perception is therefore significant in modeling the students to like it.

Whenever the students are motivated, they maximize their performance and adhere willingly to the structures that have been put in place to enhance physical education. Motivation usually results in self determination hence greater performance. The self determination theory stipulates that an individual follows his/her personal goals so as to solve the basic social, psychological, and even physical problems.

Students at Belmont participate in physical activities to get physically fit, socialize with others and avoid medical complications. Most of them for instance participate in physical activity so as to socialize with their peers and become good team players hence enhancing their teamwork skills. They are usually motivated to enjoy sporting activities without necessarily perceiving the whole exercise as a punishment or a waste of time.

This has been done by enhancing competition in sports such as athletics, soccer, rugby basketball among others. The best teams are rewarded so as to motivate them and encourage others to work hard to achieve the same. Such rewards encourage them to perceive physical education as something interesting and worth participating in and not necessarily as a waste of time or routine activity.

Such rewards encourage children to develop a strong will towards engaging in physical education with the intentions of achieving something in the long run.

Achievement Goal Theory

This is a theory that is based on someone’s goal mastery, the application and performance. There are various concepts of ability and an individual’s achievement is very much depended on the concept of ability that is adapted. One’s ability has to be differentiated from luck and effort as well as the difficulty of the task at hand.

People tend to interpret ability in different ways and this determines their performance while handling an activity. A person will therefore tend to handle a task according to his/her own theory or understanding of achievement. A person who is task oriented for instance will major on developing existing skills, acquiring new ones and showing his/her mastery of the skills.

One who is ego centered however will mainly concentrate on outdoing others and demonstrating short-term opportunistic achievements. Someone’s personal goals are very much related to his or her world view. In Belmont, those students who are ego oriented for instance perceived success in terms of out performing others while the task oriented ones perceived it in terms of developing the existing skills, acquiring new ones as well as giving effort and interest priority.

Students with ego orientation often perceived success in physical education as being based on the possession of high ability. Task oriented students on the other hence perceived success in physical education as being based on cooperation, interest as well as effort.

Data Collection

A case study on physical education was carried out on Belmont High School. It is a public school in Massachusetts that was built in 1970 and has a student population of approximately 1170 students. There is at least one teacher for every 16 students. It is among the best schools in the country and second best in the Massachusetts region.

A smaller student population has made it easier for trained teachers as well as specialists to effectively teach physical education. The school has set aside time for physical education which is mandatory for every student to participate. The students go for physical education classes and are also offered the option of joining sports clubs hence enhancing their motor skills.

The school has also set aside two semesters purely for physical education. During this period, the students participate in sporting clubs activities, attend wellness sessions and are also allowed to participate in physical education activities outside the school most of which is spearheaded by specialists although this must be authorized by the athletics department.

The school has put a lot of emphasis on physical education and sporting activities. It participates in a number of leagues and it is a member of an interschool athletics association. About 28 sports are offered with a multiple number of competition levels.

This plays a significant role in motivating the students to engage in physical education and sporting activities. The school has also made a provision for the cheering squad which goes a long way in motivating the players during their sporting activities.

An Interview with Adler and Sean Joseph

An Interview with two different insiders, a mathematics teacher; Lawrence Adler and an administrator; Sean Joseph brought several factors concerning the physical education curriculum to light. According to them, excellence in the schools physical education curriculum could be attributed to motivational factors.

The fact that the school has put in place various avenues for competition and a reward system has greatly impacted the students and everyone strives in whichever area of completion so as to win and get a reward either as a team or individual as in the case with athletics. According to them, physical education has been made an interesting activity and every individual is willing to engage in and out do the other competitors.

An interview with the teacher; Adler, proved the fact that those students that were active in physical education and sporting activities were on average well performers when compared to those that did not actively engage in the same. According to the administrator, the fact that the school offered a variety of sporting activities and various avenues for competition was a major boost to the physical education curriculum in the school.

Students have a variety of sports to choose from hence everyone has a place to express his/her talent to the fullest. According to the administrator, this helped those students were quite talented in the academic fields as some of them were able to earn a living out of sporting activities after getting out of the school.

Interview with Eddie Jones: a Physical Education Teacher

An interview with the physical education teacher, Eddie Jones was also carried out and according to him, physical education was very important in helping a child to develop physically, emotionally, mentally socially and even psychologically.

He held the view that the right approach to physical education for instance through the employment of well trained physical education teachers and involving specialists have been stepping stones in making physical education a success in the school.

Those who teach physical education had employed the appropriate methodology in making it a success. The school had set aside special departments that deal with physical education hence ensuring effectiveness in teaching the subject.

The physical education teachers have embraced creativity both from their side and the side of the students hence making the program a very interesting affair. The department is staffed with well trained and equipped teachers.

These teachers have been instrumental in the development of appropriate programs so as to improve the physical education curriculum in the school. The Belmont students are exposed to the sporting culture and hence they develop a positive attitude towards physical education. The teachers’ positive attitude has therefore been of great significance in ensuring the same.

Interview with the physical education students

The students taking part in physical education were also interviewed concerning the aspects of physical education in their school. Those who were interviewed include David Notley, Maricelda Martin, Corry Davis, and Rob Brown. From the interview, it was evident that the students engaged in physical education due to a number of reasons.

It is quite evident that physical education was part of the school curriculum and there was no option of evading the program. Some of them however said that they engaged in the activities for various reasons some of which included the health factors.

Most of them were well informed of the complications that come with physical inactivity for instance they cited obesity, diabetes and heart diseases some of which could be averted by engaging in physical activities.

They cited the need to develop their motor skills and hence keep fit as their reason for their active involvement in physical education. On the social platform, some students insisted that engaging in physical education and more so sporting activities enabled them to socialize with their counterparts from various sociocultural backgrounds hence enabling them learn more about their friends.

Through their participation in team activities, some were glad to mention that they were able to develop teamwork skills as this was a requirement if success was to be attained in any competition. It was however very evident that most of the students engaged in physical education due to motivational factors.

Most students seemed to get the motivation from their teachers who have a positive attitude towards the exercise. They perceived it as an important affair and not necessarily a waste of time. This motivates the students as they are encouraged to engage in physical activities for their own benefits.

The issue of rewards has also been of great significance in motivating most of the students to participate in physical education activities. Some of the physical education programs involved competitions whereby the winners were rewarded for instance with trophies, cash or sometimes they got scholarships.

This has been paramount in enabling the students like physical education as they strive to get these rewards as well as recognition. Some of them however perceived physical education as a recreational exercise where they would engage in as a break from the monotonous classroom activities. All the same all these factors seemed to play a major role in encouraging these students to engage in physical education.

Observations of Physical Education Classes

From the observations made during physical education periods, it was quite evident that teachers and physical education trainers employed various techniques in the exercise. Some of the techniques involved skill drilling in particular games while others were purely based on instructions.

With a variety of sporting activities being offered, students seemed to go to the areas where they felt they were talented or were comfortable with. Different strategies were employed by the trainers in order to attain their desired goals.

The training involved much of the student participation and teaching styles are selected on logical as well as scientific basis and not necessarily basing on the teacher’s preferences. In the field, there seemed to be a lot of interaction between the teacher and the students.

The student based training has been vital in teaching the students leadership skill which are vital in the all-round development of the students. Students becoe self conscious and responsible as opposed to the cases where the the teacher is in charge of the whole training program.

Teaching Styles Spectrum

The two major approaches employed during the physical education lessons included the teacher-led approach whereby students depended on the instructions given by the teacher while carrying out the physical education activities.

The other was the open ended approach which was mainly student centered. In this approach the teacher only facilitated the activities while the students played the main role in the physical education activities. In the first approach, all the decisions were mainly made by the teacher while in the second the students carried out their activities in accordance with the prescription of the teacher.

In some cases, the teachers divided the students in pairs and allowed them to perform certain activities with one student observing the performance of his/her partner and providing the most appropriate feedback.

In the student centered approach, the students were allowed to carry out an assessment of their performance depending on the criteria set out to them by the teacher. The teacher did the planning yet left the aspects of monitoring the work to the students.

They were given the responsibility of solving the movements set out by the teachers without necessarily getting assistance from the teachers. He in most cases just played the advisory role while the students took charge of the activities. The open ended approach enabled the student to use various learning styles to acquire the desired motor skills.

A variety of teaching styles employed seemed to interest the students since the use of only one style would proof to be monotonous and hence less enjoyable. The teacher was bound to adjust the teaching and training techniques depending on the needs of the students hence using a variety of techniques made this to be optimally attained. High standards were therefore achieved through this.

Data Analysis

Physical Education
From Belmont High School Oct 1, 2008
Teacher 1 Time Employed: 100% Prior Year: Employed in the schools of this corporation.
Contract Days: 185 Experience: 20 Years Degree: Bachelor’s Degree
Subject Level Periods Per Week Pupils
Physical Education 6th Grade 10 47
Teacher 2 Time Employed: 100% Prior Year: Employed in the schools of this corporation.
Contract Days: 185 Experience: 8 Years Degree: Bachelor’s Degree
Subject Level Periods Per Week Pupils
Physical Education 6th Grade 5 17
Teacher 3 Time Employed: 100% Prior Year: Employed in the schools of this corporation.
Contract Days: 185 Experience: 17 Years Degree: Bachelor’s Degree
Subject Level Periods Per Week Pupils
Physical Education 6th Grade 10 47
Teacher 4 Time Employed: 100% Prior Year: Employed in the schools of this corporation.
Contract Days: 185 Experience: 20 Years Degree: Bachelor’s Degree
Subject Level Periods Per Week Pupils
Physical Education 7th Grade 10 44
Teacher 5 Time Employed: 100% Prior Year: Employed in the schools of this corporation.
Contract Days: 185 Experience: 17 Years Degree: Bachelor’s Degree
Subject Level Periods Per Week Pupils
Physical Education 7th Grade 10 47
Teacher 6 Time Employed: 100% Prior Year: Employed in the schools of this corporation.
Contract Days: 185 Experience: 20 Years Degree: Bachelor’s Degree
Subject Level Periods Per Week Pupils
Physical Education 8th Grade 10 40
Teacher 7 Time Employed: 100% Prior Year: Employed in the schools of this corporation.
Contract Days: 185 Experience: 17 Years Degree: Bachelor’s Degree
Subject Level Periods Per Week Pupils
Physical Education 8th Grade 10 40
Full Time Certified Employees For the School
Total Number Age 20-29 Age 30-39 Age 40-49 Age 50-59 Age 60+
Physical Education 14 15% 21% 21% 35% 7%
All Certified Employees 70 17% 24% 21% 30% 9%
New Hires Beginning Teachers Masters Degrees Males Females Minorities
Physical Education 8% 4% 58% 53% 47% 5%
All Certified Employees 12% 4% 57% 28% 72% 6%

From the statistics above, it is quite obvious that the school has endavored to employ physical education teachers that are well trained in that particular field. Some of them hve an experience of up to twenty years and are therefore better placed to deal with the subject.

All of them have a bachelors degree in their respective fields. Each teacher handles a small number of pupils hence enhancing effectiveness in the teaching process.While dealing with a smaller number, a teacher is able to assist a student to acqure the desired motor skills at a personal level. He/she is also well place to spot certain talents among the students and hence direct them on where and how to channel such talents.

The teacher might for instance spot a student who is quite talented in atheletics and hence hand the student over to the atheletics department in order to help him/her develop the talent even more. From the table, it is quite evident that the school has set asside enough time for physical education and hence the subject is not sidelined. Students are therefore able to develop their motor skills to the fullest.

Time Allocation for Physical Education in the School

Time Allocation for Physical Education in the School

Belmont High School has a number of periods set aside for physical education as it is evident from the pie chart. Such time is purely meant for the students to engage in physical activities and hence develop their mental ability, social and psychological capability as well as their motor skills.

This is reinforced with the fact that this time is spend with well trained physical education teachers and hence it is by no means time wasted. From the interview carried out on one of the teachers, it is quite evident that physical education had profound effects on the students’ performance in other subjects.

Percentage of high school students who attended physical education classes daily

With the hiring of qualified physical education teachers and involvement of specialist in the physical education programs, it is quite clear that the number of students who have been willing to engage in physical education activities has been increasing significantly. Most of them are motivated by the reward system set by the school whereby they compete and those who win are awarded.

The positive attitude of the teachers towards the subject has been a major motivational factor in physical education.

The number of those students engaging in daily physical activity has been increasing steadily as the school puts a lot of emphasis on the importance of physical education, hires qualified teachers, rewards the best competitors, acquires up to date physical education facilities and diversifies the sporting activities. Students are therefore encouraged to choose the sporting activity that is most interesting to them.

Going by the self determination theory, motives play a significant role in the student participation in physical education activities. There are two major types of motivations that encourage or discourage students from engaging in such physical activities.

The intrinsic type of motivation comes from within. It entails the desire for a student to have fun, mere satisfaction or pleasure. On the other hand, extrinsic satisfaction mainly deals with the students’ desire to acquire material rewards, gain acceptance or engage in such activities so as to avoid punishment.

Intrinsic motivation is believed to produce more positive results when compared to the extrinsic type of motivation. Trained physical education teachers of Belmont High School have used this as an avenue in motivating the students to have a positive outlook towards Physical education.

The activities carried out during the physical education periods are made to be appealing to the student and most of them are student centered hence enabling the students to like them. Most of them take the physical education period as fun time.

Extrinsic motivation has also been employed in that the students are encouraged to compete during the Physical education periods and the winners are rewarded.

Most students therefore work hard so as to enable their teams to be recognized in terms of performance and possibly get to be rewarded for the same. Intrinsic factors however were the best motivational aspects that the students cited as reason for their participation in physical education.

The school has left nothing to chance as the students are provided with the best sporting facilities and equipment besides the employment of qualified personnel and all these combined go a long way in motivating the students and making sporting and physical education to be a very interesting affair.

In most sporting activities however, it has been found out that the participants are more attracted to the rewards that come with winning and are therefore less driven by the intrinsic or self determination aspects.

The percentage of the students who engage in appropriate physical activity in the country is still as low as 17% hence the need to intensify the physical education activities across the schools. The schools ought to acquire the right equipment and manpower in odder to achieve this.

Results

Physical education is quite significant in the development of a child both physically, emotionally, socially, mentally, psychologically and even health wise. The research was mostly centered on three main theme which are; Physical fitness, intellectual development and social development.

Considering the theme of physical fitness for instance, the research proved that there is a correlation between a student’s involvement in physical education activities and his/her health. An active student for instance was less likely to develop complications like obesity and other illnesses of the heart.

He/she therefore concentrates on the academic work hence excelling both in class and the field. He/she reduces the cost that would emanate from treatments of any complications that come with physical inactivity. Physical education activities helped the students in the school to reduce stress especially that which is accrued from too much academic work besides improving the child’s self esteem.

Considering the theme of intellectual development, the results from the research indicated that physical fitness which is enhanced through physical education has so much effect on the intellectual development of a child. During the physical education periods, the students are refreshed and stay alert in class as it provides a break from the monotonous class sessions.

With the benefits that accompany the physical education exercises, students are bound to benefits greatly from this both health wise and economically which in the long run translates into sound intellectual development which results in academic excellence. Contrary to the belief that physical education is a waste of time, students who have actively indulged in physical education activities have been among the best performers too.

Schools like Belmont High School, which have effectively implemented the physical education curriculum, have been noted to post positive results on the academic scale. From 1995 to 1999 for instance, Belmont High school witnessed an increase in terms of the number of the students that actively engaged in the physical education activities.

The number increased by more that 4% and during this time the school also registered very high scores in academics hence showing that there is a relationship between engaging in physical education activities and academic excellence. Physical education is therefore significant in developing the cognitive skills of the student and increasing his/her concentration levels.

Findings have clearly proved that there exists a connection between physical activity and academic excellence. Students who were physically active exhibited good academic behavior, good cognitive skills as well as having a positive attitude towards education. Physical activity usually increases the concentration levels of a student which is a necessity in grasping academic concepts.

On the aspects of social development, the physical education curriculum in the school seemed to play a very significant role in ensuring social development among the students. Students who actively participated in the physical education activities were found to have developed good social habits.

They could easily communicate their social problems to their peers or the relevant authority. Most of them were less likely to develop social problems of exhibit antisocial behavior unlike their inactive counterparts.

As they interact in the field especially while engaging in interschool competitions, students get to interact with their colleagues from various economic and cultural backgrounds. This helps them to understand and appreciate each others differences which in the long run results into social understanding.

Implications

Physical education has a number of positive aspects to the academic curriculum. It is very vital in the improvement of academic performance in schools. It would help in the development of the students’ cognitive skills and this would enable the students to concentrate and comprehend whatever they are taught in class.

It would help the student to gain motivation for the academic work. The students who actively engage in physical education have been known to be good planners and organizers. All these go a long way in helping them improve their academic performance.

Intensifying physical education in school would imply that the school as well as parents would have to spend less on health problems of the students involving illnesses and complications such as obesity, heart diseases, stress and depression. The students would also have better social life as they acquire social skills while working in teams in the field.

With the implication that physical education leads to the improvement in academic work, intensifying physical education in schools would mean an improvement in the academic scores for the respective students which would automatically reduce the school dropout levels and increase the number of graduates.

The improvement of their social skills would also reduce social problems in the schools hence leading to an improvement in the discipline levels of the respective schools.

With the right physical education curriculum, the school would produce physically active students. The physical education lessons would be well utilized as much of the time would be dedicated to physical activity and not administrative duties. Most students would therefore be able to meet the minimal required time per day for active physical activity which is at least one hour per day.

With the employment of physical education specialists and adoption of the right physical education curriculum, the games that have low level physical activity would be replaced by those with high level physical activity so as to ensure that students get the appropriate training.

With the appropriate training, physical education teachers would be able to offer the best consultative services concerning physical education. More time would also be set aside for physical education activities.

Challenges

Just like many schools, Belmont High School has had a number of challenges that are related to physical education. Allocation of more time for physical education has not gone unopposed as most teachers who deal with other subjects perceived it as a waste of quality time that would be used in improving the other subjects especially mathematics and the sciences.

There have also been spotted a few cases where students over-indulged in physical education and sporting activities at the expense of academic work hence underperforming in some of the core academic subjects. Some students are also not motivated as they hold to the opinion that physical education should be given the least time on the school curriculum considering that it is not assessed like other academic subjects.

They are only compelled to engage in physical education not out of will but out of the fear that they could be punished if they did not. On the side of expenses, it has been a bit costly for the school to hire trained teachers or specialists who are able to give quality training to the students. Some of the facilities meant for effective physical education have proved to be very expensive either in buying, hiring or renovating the existing ones.

Organizing some tournaments for competition has also been costly on the side of the school. The number of students who do not actively engage in physical activities is still relatively high.

Some of the time allocated for physical education has been wasted through the physical education teacher’s involvement in administrative duties hence reducing the time allocated for physical education. All these factors have hindered the realization of the school philosophy which aims at producing all-round students who not only excel in the field but in their academics as well.

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