The purpose of this study was to describe and analyze task systems in elementary physical education classes. Two elementary physical education specialists were observed during 34 classes. Systematic observation strategies were used to describe and analyze classroom events. Data supported the existence of managerial and instructional task systems along with an informal social task system. Students complied with managerial tasks; modifications were not evident. Students’ responses to instruction were either (a) on the stated task with success or little or no success, (b) upward or downward task modifications, or (c) off-task. Primarily, students stayed on-task whether they were successful or not. Relationships among tasks within lessons indicated that the teachers used a pattern of informing, extending, and applying tasks. A less formal accountability system was evident as children were not involved in the formal exchange of performance for grades. Managerial, instructional, and social task systems did not operate exclusively but interacted with one another.
Diana L. Jones is with the Department of Physical Education at Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL 61455.