Archive for February, 2013



After much deliberation and thinking about my topic for the coming weeks I have decided to write about the different aspects and benefits of physical education, and what its effects are on education. As my friends are aware, sports is a big part of my life. I represent the university in tennis and squash respectively, I  also instruct and coach children, introducing them to the sport from an early age and teach them basic techniques, ABC’S (Agility, Balance, Co-ordination and speed) (LTA, 2003) and other skills to improve performance for these sports, thus making it a great topic for me to learn more about, not just to better myself, but to impro my teaching methods and enhance the learning experience in my lessons.


ABC’S activity cards :


Girls In PE


For my first week’s topic I am going to concentrate on girls in sport. According to WSFF (NHS, 2013), only 12% of girls aged 14 take part in enough physical activity in their weekly activities. However the findings suggest that girls do want to take part in sport, although not in a competitive manner in competing against each other, they much prefer a much more social approach to sport. It was also noted that barriers were perceived in physical activity, with insufficient choice of activity and a feeling that only the talented were encouraged in participating in sporting activity. Therefore raising the question “how is our physical education programmes failing in schools?”

One intervention by the Welsh government is the 5X60 incentive (Leyshon, 2009) in secondary schools. This targeted non-sporty secondary school age children with after schools activities and sports where boys and girls can socially interact in a friendly environment without feeling uncomfortable, with officers (not teachers) arranging the activities, encouraging all youngsters to take part, not just the talented athletes. It’s goals are for each youngster to partake in 60 min of exercise five times a week which in turn will tackle obesity and promote friendly competitions which fits in directly to the WSFF findings in combating these interaction problems in girls and promoting sport participation. Would this approach be more effective in our schools by ensunring girls a positive experience of sports in schools through offering sporting choices, rather than an instructional, authoratative lesson? We will discuss this in further weeks


Achievement and Sport


Achievement has always been stressed in sport, in early years we develop a competitive nature and knowing whether or not we win or lose.  A study into education by Fox et al (1994) studied how ego goal orientation and task affected the motivation of the participant (hi/lo) and their sports competence (hi/lo), splitting them into four groups (hi/hi, lo/hi, hi/lo, lo/lo) based on the ego scales from a Task and Ego orientation in Sport questionnaire. The findings were as expected that the hi/hi group emerged as the most motivated and the lo/lo the least motivated, most of which were girls. Theses finding cause them to conclude that the girls in the lo/lo group are most at risk of non-participation in sport. These findings also conclude that task and ego profile analysis can therefore offer a good insight to the achievement motivation of the children. This can be generalised into an academic situation and is very worrying, 

This was shown by Skaalvik (1997) in Norwegian schools when he tested the same. The findings made associations between self-defeating ego orientation negatively related toward achievement and self-perception, while high ego orientation correlated with achievement, self-perception and intrinsic motivation in Norwegian schools.

Yes.. I know these studies are a little in depth and question intrinsically motivating issues, but from what is suggested assumptions could be made that sport affects academic achievement. Having a self-defeating ego to sport and could affect academic achievement. Does this then suggest that sporting participation and learning to set goals through sports could lead to better student grades?


The Roles of Teachers and Coaches during physical activity


In individual sports especially the coach- athlete relationship has been to be a more emotional in tone compared to team events. (Salminen et al, 2007) This can therefore be generalised to physical education, where the coach’s relationship with his pupils is going to be much less emotional and a lot more authoritarian driven.

One proven method of keeping children motivated in lessons has been successful in swimming coaches relationships in specific athlete age groups (Black, 1992) is shown by using Harter’s competence scale (1982).  When coaches adapted this method of coaching in Black’s (1992) study, showed that the coaches who offered more motivation through information and more frequent successful behaviours (reinforcement) and more frequent information with encouragement with undesirable performances had their athletes motivated and perceived of having athletes with higher success rates.


This again is a topic that I will go into more detail in future weeks!





These topics are what I feel are problematic areas in physical education teaching with many bridges needing to be formed and clarified in these areas, and hopefully others feel the same way!


Therefore next week I will discuss girls in sports in further detail (although I may get some hatred) discussing interventions needed to be made in order to increase activity and other objectives.


LTA (2003) ABC’S activity cards: Retrieved from


Girls ‘are being put off exercise and PE’ – Health News – NHS Choices (2012). Girls ‘are being put off exercise and PE’ – Health News – NHS Choices. Available at:


Leyshon., A. S. (2009) Physical activity, Extracurricular Sport and the 5×60 initiative: Leisure Lifestyles and Young People in Wales, 2007-2009. Retrieved from:


Black, J. and Weiss, M. (1992) The relationship among perceived coaching behaviors, perceptions of ability, and motivation in competitive age-group swimmers. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 14 (3), p.309-325.

Fox, K. et al. (1994) Children’s task and ego goal profiles in sport. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 64 (2), p.253-261.

Salminen, S. and Liukkonen, J. (1996) Coach-athlete relationship and coaching behavior in training sessions. . International Journal of Sport Psychology , 21 (1), p.59-67.

Skaalvik, E. (1997) Self-enhancing and self-defeating ego orientation: Relations with task and avoidance orientation, achievement, self-perceptions, and anxiety.. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89 (1), p.71-81.





This week I have picked a topic from one of the suggested websites, and after reading through them, I feel this is the one I am most comfortable with. Mathematics is a key influence in our everyday lives, without it, simple tasks will be limited and then reduce the capabilities of being able to succeed. According to Peter Stanford (2012) many students have a poor image of mathematics, and even Michael Gove (Educational Secretary for the UK) is taking note as he has suggested that within the next decade, a new goal set for all students should be that they are educated in mathematics to at least eighteen years, instead of sixteen current years. This is also being discussed by the house of Lords, whose Science and Technology committee are stressing the importance of math skills both for future job opportunities as more and more employers are demanding good mathematic skills at undergraduate level and postgraduate level in order to keep the economy growing (Jha, 2012).


So back on topic, how can game playing bring a positive attitude towards mathematics? Game playing in general has been accepted as beneficial, and promotes social interaction through talking and listening to other students while participating in these activities. (Trafton & Bloom, 1990) If this is true, shouldn’t this give students maximum enjoyment out of mathematics if we associated it with games?  Bragg (2003) used a qualitative data collection method in order to fully gain the students perspective of mathematic learning and answer these questions.  The findings all agreed with the research which concluded the games were a fun and motivating way of learning, however they did bring some good positive and negative feedback to this method of teaching for example:


I: Has there been a time that you hated math? Tell me about it.

Coco: Well it’s like really really easy stuff like you already know it and Mr. B keeps on explaining and explaining it because there are people in the grade who don’t understand it. And you just want to get on with it except he keeps explaining it and it’s too easy.


This statement highlighted that there were clear limitations to this method of teaching, as her teacher classified Coco as an above average 5th grader. However if a within groups design was implemented in the classroom this would not be an issue as this would then meet the needs of each and every student in that classroom, making it simpler for the children who struggle, and advanced for the more capable students. This structure of teaching is more often used in at primary schools and has been found to be very effective (Davidson, 2013).


The advantages of this research showed that children perceived themselves as learning more when they were having fun with mathematic based games. Games may have the potential to focus on mathematics, and make it fun in an activity that may increase the rate of learning, although there isn’t any data from this study suggests this, the prediction from the children’s perspective shows a positive signs (Bragg 2003). Although I have discussed what the students feel, what about the effectiveness of learning using these games?


A study conducted by Akinsola and Animasahun (2007) however does have conclusive data and studied traditional teaching methods (control), compared to game based teaching methods (Experimental) in two different Nigerian schools. The findings again supported a difference in the two methods of teaching. Pre test there were no differences between groups, however posttest there were significances. The findings therefore link up to those of Bragg (2003) and supports the idea that game based materials engage the students actively in mathematic tasks and using a fun activities increases learning as compared to traditional teaching methods. He also suggested that game simulation should be adopted more within schools as it sets more achievable goals and therefore resulting in a stronger liking for mathematics as a subject.


Comparing the main two research bodies discussed (Bragg, Akinsola) it can be seen that one was qualitative and the other quantitative, we can see that the main findings are seen to be extremely similar by the way students perceive, enjoy and learn Mathematics and enjoy it through games (Bragg, 2003). It is also shown that the results of using game-simulation mathematics in secondary schools and the learning improvements as compared to traditional teaching. These two studies, although different in methods and contents, have shown the same results in two different ways  and concepts strengthens any argument that game playing can improve a child’s mathematic skills and improve their enjoyment of the subject, thus reaping the long term benefits.


Stanford, P. (2012, June 05). Hay Festival 2012: Peter Stanford on the importance of maths. The Telegraph. Retrieved from


Gove says ‘vast majority’ should study maths to 18 (2011, June 29). BBC: Education and Family. Retrieved from

Jha, Alok. (2012, July 24). Make maths compulsory for all A level students, say Lords. Guardian. Retrieved from:


Davidson. H. (2013). Ability Grouping. The Gale Group. Retrieved from


Bragg, L. (2003) Childrens Perspectives on Mathematics and Game Playing. Deakin University. Retrieved from:


Akinsola M. K., Animasahun I. A. (2007). The effect of simulation-games environment on students achievement in and attitudes to mathematics in secondary schools. Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology. Retrieved from :

Here is the Talk linked to this Blog:


“Music is an art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color”. ( We can hear music on the TV, radio, in hotel lobbies, streets, and pretty much anywhere we go as the sound of music is not far away and wide spread. Music has become an important part of our lives and can affect our senses as the rhythm and tempo can influence respiratory systems while it is played. (Bernardi, Porta & Sleight, 2005) Therefore if we know it can affect our senses, what other influences can music have on our lives and its importance in cognitive development and education?


One studied example that suggests music has a role in spatial reasoning is called the “Mozart effect”. Playing musical numbers composed by Mozart has been seen to increase brain development and falsely associated with intelligence in children and adults alike. (Rauscher, 1993) Although since the first finding, all other studies found no significance after replicating the Mozart study on influence in IQ. (Steele, 1999)  As I explored through the Internet further, more and more studies did not show this effect and disproved the first finding, as mood was the main factor in performance and not the music, however spatial reasoning did show a significant effect. As stated in my first blog, a state found one finding and promoted vigorously in order to become the most successful state. This yet again happened using the Mozart effect with Georgia state sending CD’s of classical music to parents in order to promote higher order processing in brain growth as Rauscher (1993) study suggested. Although research was not fully carried out, a statement from the governor of Georgia, Zell Miller, said after playing a short piece of classical music at a conference “Don’t you feel smarter already.” was a wild claim as Rausch then publicly stated that he did not associate his study with intelligence increases rather only spatial, therefore explaining why no evidence was found by other researchers when testing for IQ. This was a highly controversial topic, which was much influenced by the media attention and the misinterpretation of Rausch’s findings, however all was made clear during 1999 after he addressed the scientific world.


We now know that the Mozart effect could be used for developing spatial reasoning in infants and possibly children with difficulty in mathematics, however are there any effects with music. Norton (1979) studied the relationship of music ability compared to auditory and visual conservation in kindergarten children. He found that music ability does not affect the visual conservation and therefore no significance but was different as more musically able children better equipped for the auditory conservation. This was an important study in order to show that educators should not assume that visual conservers are auditory conservers. This study therefore shows that music training is important in order to increase the children auditory conservation skills in order for them to keep both auditory and visual equal.


One other finding of research worth mentioning is that from Schellenberg (2004), where he tested students in music group and a control group (non-music/drama) on whether or not attending these groups affected IQ. His findings were that they did not affect IQ and again causes more confusion as drama groups did show an improvement pre to post condition. This again shows that music does not affect intelligence, rather drama lessons do.


The findings from my blog topic have been rather surprising to say the least, although many articles on the internet and books suggest that music does affect IQ and intelligence, the research disproves this. Rauscher made a great and influential discovery, which was miss-interpreted and subsequently criticized; however his findings did not suggest that IQ was affected by the Mozart effect only spatial reasoning. Norton’s results also showed similar findings that auditory maturity is affected but visual is not, which does make sense however Schellenber’s as discussed above does not show IQ differences in music classes but does in drama. Although I have only briefly discussed this topic, the evidence therefore shows no clear benefits on education and music, although motor skills and spatial reasoning are important features within it. Music does serve an importance in society and is this enough to keep it within our education systems? I cannot answer that question as there still seems to be advantages to having music classes and disadvantages, but promoting drama classes with music it may be an answer as it does seemingly increase individuals IQ which can only be positive for the school and the children!




Bernardi, L. (2006). Cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and respiratory changes induced by different types of music in musicians and non-musicians: the importance of silence. Heart. 92 (4), 445-452.

Steele, K. M. (1999). The Mystery of the Mozart Effect: Failure to Replicate. Psychological Science. 10, 366.

Rauscher, Frances H.; Shaw, Gordon L.; Ky, Catherine N. (1993). Music and spatial task performance. Nature. 365 (6447): 611

Norton. D. (1979). Relationship of Music Ability and Intelligence to Auditory and Visual Conservation of the Kindergarten Child. Journal of Research in Music Education. 27 (1), 3-13.

Schellenberg. (2004). Music lessons Enhance IQ. Psychological Science. 15 (8), 511-514.

Here is the Talk linked to this Blog:

Education is a very important starter in a children’s life as they spend at least twelve years being guided on problem solving, vocabulary, language, reading and writing. Teachers are the main contributors for this as they are employed by schools in order to meet social needs and teach the social skills of that society, reaching the demands an aims set by the curriculum.

Maloney 2012 stated that “Teaching is a strange profession as we do not ask a pilot to build and service an aircraft….. But in education we expect teachers to produce, create and manage every aspect of the educational process from the initial concept to the final mark and its timely reporting. All of this is without benefit of any specialised training in the instructional design of learning”. This is a worrying statement as we depend so much on our teachers and if they are not receiving the correct educational practices and methods how can they to truly optimise their students performances in the classroom and reach their needs.

Direct Instruction (Englemann) and Precision teaching (Hughes) are great mechanisms for increasing student grades and targeting independent problems.  Direct instruction involves highly scripted products followed by repetition and homogenous grouping. Precision teaching can be used to test individual learning on a daily basis using charting. Science needs measurements and PT does this, combined with direct instruction it can be very effective, Morningside Academy uses these in America and is a scientific laboratory teaching school. It’s results show that it can improve a childs’ educational performance at an effective and short period of time, but are yet to be adopted by many council run schools in the United Kingdom, although it has been around for decades, we still teach using the “traditional” method

The problems using traditional methods shows failings in teaching and 53% of adults do not have Level 1 numeracy skills in Wales after leaving education. (Welsh Assembly Government, 2005). Why has this happening now? Why is the education system failing individual needs and basic skills? Why do we not adapt to proven methods of education?

Former US Education secretary William Bennett also put a light on  how our educational failings do not include sufficient punishment. “There are greater, more certain, and more immediate punishments in this country for serving up a single rotten hamburger in a restaurant than repeatedly furnishing a thousand school children with a rotten education!” I really believe that this statement shows the reform that is needed in schools with more with schools now needed to be targeted and governing bodies in order to increase and improve the welfare and education for children and the governing bodies in which control them.

In 2011 the Welsh government released a banding system in order to rank the schools in each area and compare schools in your are. This shows that they are taking note in the situations and trying to make interventions, however this did create an uproar. The school I attended Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen received the lowest banding score resulting in many concerned parents in the area and complaints to the school. This might improve the schools teaching however the criticisms from the parents and the media coverage surely cannot be good, showing the decency and immaturity of the Welsh government in making their results public!

The government also set up a campaign in “Every child matter” in order to increase and improve the teachers accountability of accomplishing or failing children in education. This in my opinion has been needed as without this, the actions of teachers will not be accounted for which was a big problem in the past, but now seems to be improving the working environment and the use of effective instructions.

There are many questions still to be answered and this blog is just the tip of the iceberg to many flaws in the schools systems in Wales and the rest of the UK’s schools. Although changes have been implemented and interventions in the way schools are run and managed have changed, but the base of the curricula is still using traditional educational methods which is proving to be ineffective as the surveys suggest, therefore changing it to PT or DI would be more effective although the shift is very slow. Schools and teachers are now becoming more accountable for the students performances and so are the exam educational bodies therefore more is being done for the welfare of the next generation, although more reform is still needed in education in my opinion!