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David Kirk

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David Kirk

Objectives are widely used in physical education curriculum work, though the effectiveness of their use varies. Specific and behavioral objectives continue to be advocated by physical education curriculum writers despite many wide-ranging criticisms. A particular criticism is that objectives trivialize educational processes and celebrate convergent learning outcomes. In this essay, a range of advocacies on how best to approach physical education curriculum work is reviewed. A number of limitations of the objectives approach are identified. These limitations are highlighted through a review of literature and through a case study, which examines some of the practical consequences of institutionalizing an objectives approach. It is suggested that the notion of curriculum work as craft presents an alternative to the use of objectives. Curriculum work as craft involves systematic and reflective processes promoting individuality and personal involvement in teaching and learning. This approach also creates the possibility of divergent learning outcomes.

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David Kirk

In this paper I argue that there is currently an orthodoxy in RT-PE that is unable, through its present epistemologies and methods, to make a major impact on curriculum practice. Three particular issues are highlighted as problematic: strategies for change adopted within the orthodoxy, who has the power to define and legitimate the research agenda, and an apolitical view of change. In presenting an alternative view of how we might close the research/practice gap in RT-PE, I suggest that researchers must develop more democratic approaches to working with teachers, for example along the lines of the teacher-as-researcher movement rather than on them. I also argue that in order to do this, we must develop more appropriate research epistemologies and methodologies. Finally, these two developments must be framed within a more sophisticated and systematically developed understanding of the social change process, and of the political nature of our attempts as educators to bring about change.

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David Kirk

There has been growing advocacy for an inquiry-oriented approach to teacher education in the wake of developments in educational practice and theory, particularly through the action-research movement and critical curriculum inquiry. The inquiry-oriented approach argues that teacher education cannot be neutral, but must instead acknowledge the inherently political and ethical dimensions of the teaching act. This paper addresses the problem of developing a program for an inquiry-oriented approach and suggests that teacher education must focus on knowledge that begins with, and supports, the teaching act and portrays teacher education as a process of critical reflection on the teaching act itself.

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David Kirk and Ann MacPhail

Bunker and Thorpe first proposed Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU) in 1982 as an alternative to traditional, technique-led approaches to games teaching and learning. Despite interest from teachers and researchers, there has been no attempt to review the TGfU model. This is an oversight, given the important advances in educational learning theory and ecological approaches to motor control since the early 1980s. The purpose of this paper is to present a new version of the TGfU model that draws on a situated learning perspective. The paper describes the TGfU approach, overviews recent research on TGfU, and outlines a situated learning perspective. This perspective is then applied to rethinking the TGfU model. The intended outcome of the paper is the provision a more robust and sophisticated version of the TGfU model that can inform future directions in the practice of and research on TGfU.

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David Kirk and Doune Macdonald

In this paper we argue that a version of situated learning theory, as one component of a broader constructivist theory of learning in physical education, can be integrated with other forms of social constructionist research to provide some new ways of thinking about a range of challenges currently facing physical educators, such as the alienation of many young people from physical education. The paper begins with a brief comment on some uses of the term “constructivism” in the physical activity pedagogy literature, then provides a more detailed outline of some of the key tenets of Lave and Wenger’s (1991) theory of situated learning. We then go on to show how this theory of situated learning can be applied to thinking about the social construction of school physical education, using the example of sport education.

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Ann MacPhail, David Kirk and Linda Griffin

In this article, we were interested in how young people learn to play games within a tactical games model (TGM) approach (Griffin, Oslin, & Mitchell, 1997) in terms of the physical-perceptual and social-interactive dimensions of situativity. Kirk and MacPhail’s (2002) development of the Bunker-Thorpe TGfU model was used to conceptualize the nature of situated learning in the context of learning to play an invasion game as part of a school physical education program. An entire class of 29 Year-5 students (ages 9–10 years) participated in a 12-lesson unit on an invasion game, involving two 40-min lessons per week for 6 weeks. Written narrative descriptions of videotaped game play formed the primary data source for the principal analysis of learning progression. We examined the physical-perceptual and social-interactive dimensions of situated learning (Kirk, Brooker, & Braiuka, 2000) to explore the complex ways that students learn skills. Findings demonstrate that for players who are in the early stages of learning a ball game, two elementary, or fundamental, skills of invasion game play—throwing and catching a ball—are complex, relational, and interdependent.

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Ann MacPhail, David Kirk and Gary Kinchin

The development of feelings of identity, the sense of belonging to a team, and the growth of social skills are experiences that sport, if properly conducted, is well placed to offer (Siedentop, 1994). Evidence suggests that some characteristics of traditional, multiactivity forms of physical education work against realizing these goals (Locke, 1992). Siedentop’s Sport Education (SE) model is one attempt to overcome this shortcoming by recasting units as seasons and maintaining persisting groups as teams throughout the season. Extended units intended to foster team affiliation while promoting affective and social development are common objectives in physical education. We report on a 16-week SE unit that includes over 70 Year-5 students (9- to 10-year-olds) from one UK school. Our findings show that the opportunity to become affiliated with a team was an attractive feature of the pupils’ physical education experience and that, under the framework of SE, there was an obvious investment made by the Year-5 Forest Gate students in relation to their sense of identity and involvement as members of a persisting group.

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Jacinta O’Brien, Kathleen A. Martin Ginis and David Kirk

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of an 8-week body-focused physical and health education module on self-objectification and social physique anxiety (SPA) in a sample of 85 Irish schoolgirls. Classrooms were randomly assigned to receive the experimental module or the standard curriculum. Participants completed pre- and postassessments of the value they placed on objectifying and nonobjectifying physical attributes, along with a measure of SPA. Girls in the experimental condition increased the value they placed on physical health and strength, decreased the value they placed on sex appeal, and showed no change in SPA. Girls in the control condition decreased the value they placed on body weight and physical fitness and experienced a significant increase in SPA. These results suggest that a body-focused module can decrease self-objectification and prevent developmentally linked increases in SPA.

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Sarah Deans, Alison Kirk, Anthony McGarry and David Rowe

Introduction: Accurate measurement of physical behavior in adults with lower limb absence is essential to report true patterns of physical behavior and the effectiveness of interventions. The effect of placing accelerometers on prostheses may also affect the reliability and validity. Purpose: To assess reliability and criterion-related validity of the activPAL for measuring incidental and purposeful stepping, and reclining and stepping time in adults with unilateral lower limb absence. Methods: 15 adults with unilateral lower limb absence completed simulated lifestyle activities in a laboratory setting that were retrospectively scored via video analysis. Objective data were obtained simultaneously from two activPAL monitors placed on the sound and prosthetic side. Data were analyzed using one-way intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC), paired t-tests and Cohen’s d. Results: Reliability (prosthetic side vs. sound side) was poor for incidental steps (ICC = .05, d = 0.48) but acceptable for all other measures (ICC = .77–.88; d = .00–.18). Mean activPAL measures, although highly related to the criterion, underestimated, on average, stepping and time-related variables. Differences were large for all stepping variables (d = .38–.96). Conclusions: The activPAL is a reliable measurement tool in adults with lower limb absence when used in a laboratory setting. Placement of the monitor on the sound side limb is recommended for testing. The activPAL shows evidence of relative validity, but not absolute validity. Further evaluation is needed to assess whether similar evidence is found in free-living activity and sedentary contexts.