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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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John Williams and Shane Pill

Purpose: Self-study is used to report Author 1’s attempts at introducing Asian games in teaching a new unit as part of physical education teacher education at an Australian university. Method: Author 1’s diary and reflective journal extracts as well as contemporary and historical documents were our data sources. Critical incidents were identified from Author 1’s accounts and analyzed using the extant literature and figurational sociology. The authors’ documents were analyzed using content analysis. Results: Limited information uncovered about these games in initial unit planning, subsequent searches for this paper and possible misrepresentation of one game, all served to reinforce normative knowledge. Such reinforcement simultaneously obstructs the decolonization of physical education curricula. Conclusion: Eurocentric knowledge appears to prevail as the knowledge that most matters in the physical education context we studied. Over the course of several deliveries of the unit described here, Author 1 experienced a shift in his pedagogy from “telling” students they should do critical pedagogy, to explaining how he does it in his own teaching.

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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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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

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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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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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.

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Brendan SueSee, Shane Pill, Michael Davies, and John Williams

Purpose: In response to the limitations with what has been termed a “traditional” Physical Education method, in the last decade Models-Based Practice (MBP) has emerged as an alternative. However, these limitations were recognized by Mosston in 1966 and from which The Spectrum of Teaching Styles (The Spectrum) was presented as a means toward a more obvious educative focus in Physical Education. We propose that The Spectrum provides a bridge between the hope and happening of MBP suggested by Casey and colleagues. Method: Using a qualitative narrative approach, we construct a fictional discussion between two academics (one from a country with centralized, mandated curriculum and one without) through which to navigate the mythical island of quality Physical Education in order to analytically frame The Spectrum and the “happening” of teacher’s implementation of MBP. Use of a fictional dialogue as a qualitative instrument enabled us to be provocative through the posing of questions in a novel fashion. Results: We suggest adopting a nonversus perspective reorients the view of model fidelity and, The Spectrum provides the “how” or micropedagogies to close the gap between the “hope” and the “happening.” Conclusion: This conversation is timely considering reservations about the successfulness of “second-generation” MBP exist in the literature and evidence of the continuation of the historically common Physical Education method despite its well-recognized limitations.