- How children learn motor
skills, an essential part of physical education.
- Four Theories

- Four Theories
- Teaching strategies associated with physical education.

"Strategies are a primary
concerned with how subject matter is presented." (Dowell, 1975, p.
47). Learning teaching strategies for different curriculum areas is a
key component to a developing teachers education. Teaching strategies
play a key role in educating students, without strategies or a range
of strategies children are left to educate themselves. A good
definition of a strategy in a physical education sense can be taken
from Dowell (1975) where a teaching strategy is an "overall design or
procedure a teacher uses to transmit subject matter to students, it
may include one or more techniques and methods of teaching in the
process." (p.56) Better still a definition from Siedentop (1983) of
teaching as whole explains how vital strategies are to teaching. "The
basic task of teaching is to find ways to help students learn and
grow; to design educational experiences through which students will
grow in skill, understanding and attitude." (p. 5). Siedentop then
places learning a variety of strategies as stage two in *Stages of
Skill Development in Teaching (p. 13)*, it only comes after the
initial discomfort stage.

Teaching strategies is a very broad topic, to teach anything there has to be a strategy. This page focuses specifically at the strategies used in different subject areas and how they vary. The subject area that is looked at specifically in this page is physical education. Physical education is a unique subject because of its physical component, this uniqueness has a profound effect on the teaching strategies used.

Physical education like all other curriculum areas has to teach children using a variety of mediums, by this I mean a child has to be given the option of visual, aural and hands on experience when learning anything. The other common feature of strategies with other subjects is their role in stimulating and motivating students to learn.

Before we can look at strategies specific to physical education we need to consider the way in which children learn physical education and motor skills. Motor skills are the skills associated with actions the body performs, for example writing is a motor skill. Physical education focuses on motor skills that are based around sports, leisure and physical development. Motor skills are an essential part of the physical education curriculum because all practical is based on fine and gross motor skills.

There are a number of motor learning theories on the make-up of children and how they should be educated in motor skills and therefore physical education.

- This theory believes there is a stored program for each specific activity, it is the role of the teacher to manipulate the program to bring results.

- This theory believes there are stored programs for skills but they are not specific and the teacher has to build apon the initial foundation to improve the skill.

- This model or theory believes motor learning and physical education are developmental and sequential. It is the child that teaches themselves motor skills it is the teachers role to refine and improve skills at a faster rate.

- This model incorporates the motor program and motor shemas theories. The theory believes movement patterns are inborn and it is the role of the teacher to massage the skills out of the child.

Some strategies that are associated with physical education are: lecture, discussion, lecture-demonstration, practice, inquiry, progressive-part, part-whole and whole-part-whole (Dowell, 1975). Most of these strategies can be used in any subject but I will be focussing on how they can be used in a physical education sense.

This strategy is mainly used when teaching the theory of physical education. The lecture strategy is useful when introducing a new unit of work, it can introduce the rules and cover basic skill and techniques. When using the lecture strategy teachers need to be well organized and be enthusiastic in their delivery to keep students motivated. This strategy is limited in its usefulness due to the inability to provide feedback, a vital aspect of physical education, and the lack of opportunity to assess students. The lecture strategy is usually combined with other strategies.

The discussion strategy should be used as an immediate follow up to the lecture. Students are given the chance to ask questions and put forward their ideas related to the topic. To do this the strategy is most useful in small groups so each student gets a chance to voice their opinions. Discussions can be lead by the teacher with open ended questions. Another responsibility of the teachers when using this strategy is to make sure there is an environment where students feel comfortable to make opinions and where they are not going to be put down. A discussion can be very useful for students learning from each other, all students will bring different abilities and techniques to the physical education classroom, a discussion will help them evaluate their skills and make alterations. The discussion is most useful at the start of a unit where they need to be evaluating themselves in their learning process.

Another strategy that is closely related to the lecture strategy is the lecture-demonstration strategy. This strategy uses all the techniques of the lecture strategy and incorporates a physical demonstration. The demonstration can be taken by a teacher, student or a group of students. The important issue with choosing students to take demonstrations is that they are doing the activity correctly and providing a good example for other students to base their learning on. Therefore teachers should choose carefully when getting students to demonstrate a skill. This strategy is one of the most popular for teaching physical education. This is due to a number of factors: students are offered two ways of understanding the skill being taught, visually and aurally; students can make links with the theory by seeing what is being taught; and it gives the students that are demonstrating a unique experience.

A strategy that is commonly used in physical education is the practice strategy. This strategy utilizes the useful tool of feedback to improve development in students learning. The practice strategy is where students get to physically do the skill put to them in the lecture or theory. Students can get feedback in this strategy from other students or the teacher observing them in practice. Practice is where students can refine their techniques and move to another plateau of the performance curve.

The next strategy looked at is the inquiry strategy. This strategy gives students the chance to become involved in the teaching of the learning process. It tries to promote reflective thinking and self refinement. It is very similar to the inquiry strategy in literacy, where reflection enables students to critically evaluate what they are doing.

The progressive-part strategy is a strategy that is used with mainly younger students. This strategy teachers students through a sequence, from the very basics to a complex level. The progression is quite slow due to the slight refinements and the need for complete understanding before moving onto the next stage.

This strategy is similar to the progressive-part except there isn't as major emphasis on each stage and two or more stages can be combined to one stage. In this strategy students learn the individual parts of a skill or game before attempting to do the whole skill or play a complete game. The part-whole strategy is used when the skill is complex and there are many aspect that must be mastered in order to perform the skill at a competent level. The main consideration with this strategy is the level of the students ability to take in what is being taught. Generally if there are more than three key components in a skill the part-whole strategy will be used.

The whole-part-whole strategy is a strategy that is greatly used by teachers of physical education. As the name of the strategy implies, students do a skill as a whole, they then learn the basics in parts and then do skill as a whole again. This strategy is very effective because after the initial experience of doing the skill as a whole. A useful aspect of this strategy is the teacher gets a good idea of the skill level of the students when they do the skill as a whole initially, from this observation the teacher can base their level of instruction for the part aspect of the strategy. The other associated benefit is students can develop more rapidly if their skill levels are advanced, the teacher will avoid going through the basics as they would in the part-whole method.

Examples of lesson plans using the part-whole and whole-part-whole will demonstrate the difference between the two strategies and give ideas of how these strategies can be used in the classroom.

A lesson teaching the motor skill of throwing provides a good example of the strategies being put into practice.

- Part 1 - the grip: teach students how to grip the ball.
- Part 2 - the arm movement: the arm is brought behind the back so the hand is behind the head, the arm then moves forwards and is extended out in front of the body.
- Part 3 - the release: the ball is released as the arm and wrist are fully extended.
- Part 4 - weight transference: the weight is shifted from the back leg to the front leg, simultaneously with the arm.
- Part 5 - leg movement: as the weight is transferred to the back leg, the front leg comes off the ground and steps forward with the weight transference.
- Part 6 - doing the skill as a whole.

- Organize an activity where students can throw at a target. This is the only instruction that should be given (apart from safety issues). The teacher observes the students and from this decides what part of the skill they will begin their instruction.
- The teacher then follows the part-whole strategy. Depending on the classes previous experience of throwing and their ability the teacher will instruct from a part that matches their ability with one of the parts described in the part-whole strategy above.
- Once the students have attempted the skill and been through the skill in parts they do the skill as a whole again, this time with the benefit of feedback and refinement in the part strategy.