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  • Author: Donetta Cothran x
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Donetta J. Cothran

Current conceptualizations of student learning recognize the active, constructivist, and mutually influential nature of student-teacher interactions in the shared class environment. Since students and teachers enter the classroom with potentially different prior experiences and current beliefs, their interpretation of class events may not be the same. Those differences may lead to misunderstandings and conflict; therefore, it is important to examine the student perspective on physical education. This paper offers two examples—curricular values and teaching styles—of student-teacher similarities and differences, and how those similarities and differences impact what does and does not happen in physical education class. A consistent theme across both examples is the importance of both achievement and nonachievement factors, and suggestions are offered for how physical education might better incorporate both factors to increase student learning and student and teacher enjoyment.

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Jaimie McMullen, Pamela Kulinna and Donetta Cothran

The purpose of this study was to explore classroom teachers’ perceptions of incorporating physical activity breaks into their classroom and to determine specific features of preferred activity breaks. These perceptions are considered within the conceptual framework of Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program (CSPAP). Twelve elementary and high school classroom teachers from one Indigenous school district participated in the study. The data were collected using semistructured interviews and teachers’ reflective journals and were analyzed inductively by conducting systematic searches for patterns across data types. Emergent themes included: the need for and threats to classroom control; a preference for breaks with connections to academic content; and the importance of implementation ease and student enjoyment. The findings indicated that teachers prefer activity breaks that are easy to manage, quick, academically oriented and enjoyable for students. These findings have practical implications when considering physical education teacher education and professional development that targets classroom teachers.

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Donetta J. Cothran and Catherine D. Ennis

Teachers’ educational values appear to influence their decision-making, but they are not the only decision-makers in the classroom. Students are also actively deciding on courses of action, yet educators know very little about students’ values or the interaction of teacher and student values. The purpose of this study was to examine levels of congruence between students’ and teachers’ values, and between their values and the curriculum. A multiphase research design involving observations, interviews, and Q methodology examined the educational values of 4 urban high school teachers and their students. Observation and interview data were analyzed via constant comparison. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the Q-sort data. Results indicated that teachers and students held potentially conflicting values about the educational and noneducational aspects of physical education, the role and value of social aspects, and the role of fun. Additionally, there was incongruence between participants’ values and the curricular model.

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Donetta J. Cothran and Catherine D. Ennis

Student engagement is a critical issue in education. A key component of engagement is the student’s sense of membership. When students believe in and feel a part of the purposes of school and physical education, they are more likely to engage in activities and conform to norms. The purpose of this study was to investigate students’ perspectives on school membership and its relationship to physical education. Three teachers and 16 students from a large, urban high school were observed and interviewed. The data were analyzed via constant comparison. The results indicated that school and departmental practices interacted to influence students’ sense of membership. In particular, students failed to believe in the relevance and value of their experiences, and felt few social attachments. As a result, students frequently lacked the willingness and ability to engage in physical education.

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Donetta J. Cothran and Pamela Hodges Kulinna

It was the purpose of this study to examine students’ perspectives on three teaching strategies. Seventy middle school students were interviewed, and they rank ordered the strategies. A constant comparison process guided the interview data analysis, while the rank order data were analyzed via descriptive statistics and a Friedman Analysis of Variance by Ranks. Two key concepts that influenced students’ perspectives on the effectiveness of the teaching strategies were their conceptions of the affective dimensions of each strategy and their knowledge beliefs.

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Alex C. Garn and Donetta J. Cothran

Using Scanlan and Lewthwaite’s (1986) sport enjoyment model as a conceptual framework, this study was designed to explore two areas: (a) students’ and teachers’ perceptions of “fun” in physical education class and (b) differences that may exist in these perceptions between groups of students (in team sports, individual/dual sports, and fitness) and teachers. The critical incident technique and a fun survey were administered to 191 participants. Critical incident technique narratives and descriptive statistics revealed the importance of achievement motivation concepts, such as teacher, task, and the social aspects of fun in physical education, whereas MANOVA revealed significant differences in perceptions of fun between students and teachers.

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Michalis Stylianou, Pamela Hodges Kulinna, Donetta Cothran and Ja Youn Kwon

This study was informed by the literature on teaching metaphors and the theory of occupational socialization. Its purpose was to examine in-service Physical Education teachers’ initial (before entering the profession), current, and ideal metaphors of teaching, related factors, and potential differences in participants’ metaphors based on their teaching experience. A mixed-methods approach was employed for this study, including a modified version of an existing survey (N = 66; Alger, 2009) and interviews (N = 13). Descriptive statistics indicated that while participants predominantly embraced teacher-centered metaphors initially, about half of them reported their current and ideal metaphors as student-centered. Constant comparison and analytic induction techniques revealed three themes and several subthemes: (a) fluidity (own definitions, combination of metaphors), (b) formation of initial views of teaching (acculturation, professional socialization), and (c) evolutionary forces and constraints (experience, pressure of test scores, time allocation, resources). These results have implications both for preservice and in-service teacher education programs.

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Pamela Hodges Kulinna, Timothy Brusseau, Donetta Cothran and Catrine Tudor-Locke

This study guided by a health ecology conceptual framework evaluated four “bottom-up” Physical Activity (PA) interventions with school personnel planning for their own health ecology with state level support for one year. Students (N = 616) were from four schools in the Southwestern USA in the 3rd-8th grade. Participants had various ethnic backgrounds (e.g., Hispanic 44%, Caucasian 43%) and wore a pedometer for five school days pre/post intervention. Teacher and school level data were also reported by schools. Program components varied across the four intervention sites. Paired samples t test results showed that three of the four intervention schools significantly increased both school day and 24 hr PA. School personnel reported significantly more favorable results at post test for nurse visits, student absences, and classroom teachers’ use of PA breaks. Using a health ecology lens, when schools develop their own PA intervention and have “buy in” from staff, significant increases in PA are attainable.

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Nate McCaughtry, Jeffrey Martin, Pamela Hodges Kulinna and Donetta Cothran

This study used an emotional geographies theoretical framework to analyze the emotional dimensions of urban teacher change. Fifteen urban physical education teachers involved in a comprehensive curriculum reform project were interviewed and observed multiple times across one school year. Data were analyzed using inductive analysis, and trustworthiness measures included triangulation, peer debriefing, researcher journals, and member checks. Teachers reported that emotional dimensions related to their urban students, colleagues, and status heavily influenced their engagement in the project. The discussion section maps the emotional dimensions of these teachers’ change experiences onto an emotional geographies framework that situates their experiences in change literature and offers a roadmap for future reform initiatives.

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Nate McCaughtry, Pamela Hodges Kulinna, Donetta Cothran, Jeffrey Martin and Roberta Faust