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Stephen Harvey and Shane Pill

Research commentary suggests the utilization of Tactical Games Models (TGMs) only exists in isolated instances, particularly where teachers demonstrate true fidelity to these models. In contrast, many academics have adopted TGMs into their courses. Consequently, the purpose of this study was to investigate reasons for this disparity. Participants were 44 academics and 80 physical education teachers. Results showed that academics provided a myriad of reasons why teachers may not use TGMs, although all agreed on the need for increased teacher professional development in TGMs. Physical education teachers’ outlined that numerous competing versions of TGMs was confusing and they required more hands-on examples of TGMs. Results further highlighted disparities between academics and teachers’ conceptual understanding and pedagogical applications of TGMs. There is a critical need to create improved connections between academics and physical education teachers, which could be achieved through the extended examination of the micropedagogies of teachers practice in TGMs.

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John Williams and Shane Pill

Purpose: To explore a teacher educator professional learning opportunity within the context of a taught unit of work at a government primary school in Canberra, Australia’s national capital. The unit of work focus was a traditional Australian Aboriginal game taught using a Game Sense Approach to deliver a socially just version of quality physical education. Method: A qualitative self-study methodology was adopted where the participants were Author 1 and 49 Year 5 students (aged 10–11 years). Results: Game Sense Approach was found to be an effective professional learning opportunity for Author 1, while Author 2’s knowledge about Indigenous perspectives in physical education was extended. In addition, student participants valued the taught lessons, which highlighted issues of social justice. Discussion/Conclusion: It is possible for the self-study approach described here and seemingly incompatible epistemological approaches to work together to realize a socially just version of quality physical education that can inform physical education teaching beyond this study.

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Shane Pill and Brendon Hyndman

In a games-based approach, the idea of understanding is located within the concept of games as decision-laden, problem-solving contexts. However, the concept of “understanding” is largely implicit in much of the germane literature. We are arguing for a more deliberate framework to approach the concept of understanding. We propose that the game-based approach to teaching physical education can be underpinned by the Gestalt psychological theoretical principles to provide students with more meaningful engagement in the process of learning to play games. The Gestalt psychological principles underpin the learning of games and sport through the Principle of Totality and the Principle of Psychological Isomorphism (Reproductive Thinking). The Gestalt psychological principles are underpinned by meaning-making, which is proposed as much “deeper” knowledge, developed over time, involving reflection, and agency. Although game-based approaches provide an alternative to technical and mechanical (progressive part) notions of what players need to know and do to be “skilled players,” in this paper, we question whether game-based approaches also encompass how students in physical education are learning with understanding.

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Amy Price, Dave Collins, John Stoszkowski and Shane Pill

The purpose of this study was to explore professional soccer coaches’ interpretations of features suggesting players’ game understanding across the age phases of professional academy youth soccer in England, with particular attention paid to the role of strategic understanding. Semistructured interviews were conducted with coaches (n = 19) of players aged 9–23 years to better understand how coaches understand and apply methods to develop players’ strategic game understanding. Data revealed that coaches prioritized the technical and tactical development of their players over strategic development. However, across the age phases, coaches encountered challenges with coaching for strategic understanding (i.e., maintaining control of the game, players as problem solvers, player reflection, and coaching individuals within a team). The authors suggest that coaches and program designers need to show more intent toward developing players’ strategic understanding, becoming more purposeful when choosing “how” to develop this. In particular, coaches should consider how coaching methods that seek to develop players’ metacognitive game skills can be applied, with the goal of developing self-aware, flexible, and independent players as learners who demonstrate an appropriately “deep” understanding of the game.

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Amy Price, Dave Collins, John Stoszkowski and Shane Pill

A key feature of any coach’s role is to decide on the most appropriate approach to develop player learning and performance at any given time. When coaching games, these decisions are even more challenging due to the interactive nature of games themselves and, in team games, this interactivity is heightened. Therefore, proponents of various approaches to coaching games could do well to demonstrate how different approaches may compliment rather than oppose each other, to avoid a one-size-fits-all process of coaching. In this insights paper, we summarise some of the fundamental approaches used for coaching games, whilst clarifying and contrasting their theoretical and practical differences. In doing so, we propose that there is a space in the coach’s toolbox for a games approach that hones the metacognitive skills of players. We also suggest reasons why coaches might use metacognitive game design as a tool to develop players’ deep understanding of game play to support player learning and performance.

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Shane Pill, Brendon Hyndman, Brendan SueSee and John Williams

Purpose: The research applies a multidisciplinary perspective to create knowledge and insight about the opportunities that digital game design principles offer to physical education (PE) pedagogy. Methods: Data were initially collected through an appreciative inquiry (AI). AI offers an alternative research perspective to critical theory that has dominated the investigation of the work of PE teachers. This study uniquely used AI with a narrative approach and multidisciplinary analysis to examine two teachers’ use of digital game design pedagogy in PE. Results: It was found that the teachers were motivated to use digital game design principles to provide students with means to solve problems, manage learning motivations, evaluate progress, and gain control over their learning in ways that are not normally associated with the common PE method. Conclusion: The two examples provided illustrate the generative potential of AI research combined with a multidisciplinary perspective directed at examples of pedagogical change in PE.