Teacher and student beliefs: A case study of a high school physical education class
Abstract (Summary)This study examined teacher and student beliefs about physical education by addressing the following questions (a) what beliefs about physical education do the teacher and students bring with them to class? (b) are there differences between the beliefs held by the teacher and those held by the students? and (c) what role does context play in facilitating or inhibiting the translation of these beliefs into action? Participants in this case study were one high school physical education teacher and twelve students from the same physical education class. Methodology included qualitative field notes taken during observations of two activity units (volleyball and team handball), five interviews with the teacher, four interviews with each student, and administration of the repertory grid. Data were analyzed concurrently using constant comparison to identify common themes. Throughout the study data were returned to the participants for their responses. The teacher's beliefs formed an intricate, multi-dimensional system with the core belief that, "physical education should provide an equitable environment for all students." Secondary level beliefs included for example, "the teacher is responsible for creating a safe atmosphere," and, "physical education should be recreational." The two student belief systems were, "gym class is not important now or in the future," and "it's really important to have friends in gym class." There were five key differences between teacher and student beliefs focused on the following issues, (a) the importance of physical education, (b) whether it should be mandatory, (c) the definition of learning, (d) the importance of equity, and (e) the role of the teacher. Although the teacher and students held very different beliefs about physical education, they co-existed in the same class by manipulating the context to facilitate the translation of their beliefs into action. While the teacher acted on her beliefs, she never explained them in class and the students left this program with no understanding of how the teacher viewed physical education or why she believed it to be important. Instead, students' beliefs were strongly influenced by other contextual factors and they embraced the marginal status of physical education promoted by parents, administrators, and teachers.
School Location:USA - Massachusetts
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:01/01/1996