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Providing Support to First-Year Graduate Teaching Assistants: What Do They Really Need?

Sheri J. Brock, Brenna Cosgrove Miller, Nikki Hollett, Jessica R. Grimes, and Michele Moore

Purpose: Graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) often play a vital role in the delivery of university programs, yet GTAs may lack pedagogical experience. The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of GTAs during their first semester of university teaching. Specifically, we provide a descriptive account of the GTAs’ lived experiences and how departments can best prepare GTAs. Method: Four first-year GTAs at a university in the United States participated in the study. Data collection included participant journals, focus group interviews, and individual interviews. Results: Utilizing situated learning theory as a theoretical frame, data sources generated four themes. GTAs reported positive experiences as ample support was provided, expectations were outlined, experiential learning occurred, and confidence increased through the establishment of routines. Discussion/Conclusion: Findings indicated that GTAs can acclimate to their new universities and responsibilities with guidance, resources, and support.

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Stepping Back, Stepping Up, and Stepping Forward: Exploring One Teacher’s Evolving Approach to Teaching Social and Emotional Learning in High School Physical Education

Donal Howley, Ben Dyson, and Seunghyun Baek

Purpose: Utilizing social constructivist learning theory and a conceptual framework for Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), this self-study explores how I as a teacher-researcher intentionally evolved my approach to teaching SEL in a high school Physical Education setting. Method: Data were collected over twenty 75-min lessons over 15 weeks. One critical friend interview, 20 postteaching reflections, 18 observations, and 22 journal entries were conducted. A deductive and inductive approach utilizing the Miles, Huberman, and Saldana Framework for Qualitative Data Analysis was implemented. Results: Findings demonstrate how aligning my teaching with a contemporary framework led to a more explicit and intentional focus on SEL within my already utilized repertoire of pedagogies. Discussion/Conclusion: Incorporating self-study structure as a teacher-researcher led me to understand how I evolved and felt better equipped to teach for targeted SEL competencies and skills to further compliment the teaching of core Physical Education content.

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Teaching in a New World: A Novice Teacher Educator’s Pursuit for Change

Alba Iara Cae Rodrigues, Risto Marttinen, and Dominique Banville

Purpose: To understand the process of an international doctoral physical education teacher education instructor instituting change during one semester of teaching a university course in the United States. Method: Data included reflexive journal entries, recordings of peer debriefing meetings with a critical friend, informal WhatsApp messages, and anonymous feedback from students. Data were analyzed through thematic analysis. Results: The three main themes were (a) action research as a tool for change, (b) the challenges of the first year as a doctoral physical education teacher education instructor, and (c) the power of reflection. We discuss the main challenges the first author faced and the complexities of the process of developing her pedagogical philosophies in teaching higher education for the first time in a new culture. Conclusions: Action research served as a tool to overcome challenges, develop confidence, and autonomy. The support system provided by her advisors was the main asset for achieving pedagogical change.

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Is Just Moving Enough for Girls? The Moderation Role of Gross Motor Development Level in the Association Between Physical Activity and Cognition

Jacqueline Páez-Herrera, Juan Hurtado-Almonacid, Julio B. Mello, Catalina Sobarzo, Paula Plaza-Arancibia, Juliana Kain-Berkovic, Barbara Leyton, Johana Soto-Sánchez, Verónica Leiva–Guerrero, and Albert Batalla–Flores

Purpose: Our objective is to describe the moderating effect of the level of gross motor development on the relationship between physical activity (PA) level and visual perception/memory in girls. Methods: This is a quantitative cross-sectional study with a randomized sample of 85 girls (mean age 7.11 ± 0.74) from Chile. The following models were tested: interaction between PA (light: Model 1; moderate–vigorous: Model 2; vigorous: Model 3; and total PA: Model 4) and motor development level associated with visual perception/memory. Variables that showed interaction were tested according to the Johnson-Newman. Results: The Model 2 explains 13% of visual perception/memory and the Model 4 explains 15%, indicating that the motor development level is a moderator of this relationship. Conclusions: Collectively, our results present evidence that girls with a high level of gross motor skills have a stronger relationship between total PA (and also only moderate–vigorous activity) and visual perception/memory.

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“Learn to Function in the System”: The Organizational Socialization of Urban Physical Educators

Colin G. Pennington, Galila Werber-Zion, and Tanya Prewitt-White

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore how urban physical educators’ experiences influence their motivations toward vocational persistence emphasizing health and fitness. Methods: Participants included 16 urban physical educators who participated in semistructured interviews about their experiences teaching in urban settings. For minority youths, who predominantly attend urban public schools, fitness rates are lower than the national average. Physical education has been discussed as a potential solution to combating this public health trend; however, considering Common Core reforms in public education by which health and physical education has been de-emphasized as a curricular requirement, scholars are pursuing knowledge of how the experiences of urban physical educators are evolving. Using occupational socialization as the operating theoretical framework, this study seeks to explore how 16 urban physical educators’ experiences are evolving with the changes in public education, including administrative support and other indicators of marginalization and attrition.  Results: Qualitative data analysis resulted in the construction of six themes which suggest that teaching students to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle remains a powerful motivator for urban physical educators’ persistence despite feelings of marginalization and burnout. Conclusions: The authors provide practical suggestions for practitioners and scholars to overcome feelings of marginalization and lack of resources.

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A Qualitative Examination of Online Practices During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Observational Preferences Within Physical Education

Ken Murfay, Sarah Pyszczynski, and Heather Erwin

Purpose: This qualitative case study examined students’ interpretations of their physical activity (PA) experiences within in-person and online physical education and how that influenced their PA self-efficacy. Method: The study participants were 40 (24 females) current high school students from three different schools who participated in focus group semistructured interviews. Results: Two themes were developed during analysis of the coded data: (a) online participation in PA within physical education was awkward and (b) students had a variety of observational preferences based on perceived and actual similarities/differences between students and their teachers, peers, and people within online videos. Discussion/Conclusion: The design of PA experiences should attempt to support or increase students’ PA self-efficacy by limiting students’ feelings of being uncomfortable or on display, increasing students’ opportunities to learn from each other in comfortable ways, and providing students with detailed demonstrations from teachers and peers with a variety of skill levels.

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Physical Education Teachers’ Swimming Skill Analysis in 6- to 12-Year-Old Children: Findings From an Online Survey

Inga Fokken, Ilka Staub, and Tobias Vogt

Purpose: This study aims to investigate how physical education teachers analyze their students’ swimming skills. Particular attention is given to information gathering within the diagnostic process. Methods: Data were collected from a quantitative online survey of German physical education teachers from primary and secondary schools (n = 551). This survey’s questionnaire is based on evaluated statements from a qualitative interview study (n = 10). Findings: Teachers’ diagnostic approaches vary greatly and differ in terms of quality criteria and usability. The predominant method used is movement observation, but 50.3% of the teachers do it rather rarely or without the use of criteria. Many of them (63.8%) would like to be supported by a diagnostic tool for the analysis of swimming skills. Discussion/Conclusion: It has been concluded that an accurate analysis of the students’ swimming skills as a precondition for adaptive lesson structuring is not achieved. It is necessary to determine whether a diagnostic tool could improve this process.

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What Makes Teachers’ Professional Learning More or Less Effective?: An Evolution of Community of Practice for Physical Education Teachers

Keejoon Yoon, Sunghae Park, and Hyunwoo Jung

Purpose: The purpose of this project was to explore the developmental stages of a community of practice (CoP) and its impact on teachers’ professional learning. Methods: Eight physical education (PE) teachers and one professor participated in this project, which specifically examined a CoP focused on PE (PE-CoP). Interviews and observations, as well as a focus group, were used to collect the data, which were analyzed through a constructivist revision of grounded theory. Results: The PE-CoP, which shared the same teaching model, progressed rapidly in its early stage by providing the teachers with collaborative activities to develop innovative pedagogies. Learning from the existing members was then added as a main type of professional learning for the teachers. The PE-CoP, however, gradually lost its collaborative approach, which led to ineffective professional learning. Conclusions: Finding an optimal balance between retaining focus on the primary goal of creating a CoP and offering fresh activities for more experienced members was determined to be a key factor in making the community healthy and sustainable.

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“No One Works in Isolation Here”: The Socialization of Physical Education Teachers Into a Professional Learning Community

Zack Beddoes, Emily Whitney, Jenna Starck, and Keely Reese

Purpose: Drawing from occupational socialization theory and social capital theory, the purpose of this study was to investigate the socialization of physical education teachers in a professional learning community during induction. Method: Because this investigation consisted of a single school, a single instrumental case study design was utilized. The school was purposely chosen given its status as a “model professional learning community.” Two physical education teachers, three school administrators, and the founding principal participated in this study. Data collection consisted of a combination of dyadic interviews, focus groups, observations, and documents. Results: Data analysis revealed three overlapping themes with supportive categorical subthemes: (a) Dispersed and Inclusive Leadership, (b) Teacher Empowerment, and (c) Culture of Belonging. Discussion: Implications for physical education teachers include the necessity of ongoing collaboration with administrators, cross-curricular colleagues, and physical education teaching peers. Physical educators should seek to develop strong social capital within the school professional learning community.

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Volume 42 (2023): Issue 4 (Oct 2023)