The Roles of teachers in physical education lessons.

Posted: March 18, 2013 in Uncategorized


For this week’s blog I will be looking at two topics; the role of the teacher and curriculum.




Physical activity during childhood and adolescence is associated with a progression in physical and psychological development in children. Schools are expected to implement a physical education class for each group of individuals, on average 97% of children participate in physical education lessons across countries, showing the role physical education teachers are faced with when teaching lessons (Ross, 1987). Many schools fail to implement sufficient physical activity. SPARK (Sports, Play and Active Recreation for Kids; Sallis et al, 1997) was developed for elementary children in order to generalize the physical activity implemented within schools. Through comparing control group students and SPARK students with the amount of exercise that they participated in each week, the findings showed significances to students which received the SPARK intervention and their physical gains. Additionally girls were found to be much stronger physically, abdominally, and cardio-vascularily compared to the control group; this is partly due to the lower health related fitness baseline data collected from the group prior to conditions.

Sallis et al (1997) proved how a good and well structured physical curricula, which is generalized to the whole classroom. The best results were found from the specialist led condition and trained SPARK teachers. The research however did not find any correlations towards SPARK and any extra curricular activity after school.  The researchers have therefore implemented an important study into PE lessons, as I have discussed previously in blogs. This approach to teaching in a more fun, and sociable activity results in an engaging child (Van Daalen, 2005). Sallis et al (1997) shows within the findings that children gained on average 13 hours extra “vigorous” physical activity when instructed using SPARK as compared to control groups, showing the positive effects that SPARK has in a curriculum.

Here’s a video for you to enjoy, I find it very cool the way they implement this program in the class!

Competent Teaching


Luke and Sinclair (1991) found the second most common factor for students not participating in PE classes was due to the teacher (the first being curricula). Biases towards certain sporting activities in the curriculum and students not being allowed to take part in the decision making of activities led to this being an un-favoured factor towards participation. This concept is worrying, if teachers aren’t generalizing their teaching to the whole class this could have problems in future sports participation of the taught individuals and could eventually cause the vulnerable students to develop preventable diseases e.g. Obesity (Starc and Strel, 2010).

Starc and Strel (2010) carried out a 3-year longitudinal study looking into how competent teachers can influence a student’s physical fitness as compared to generalist teachers. Their findings did not suggest any physical benefits from the competent teachers as compared to the generalist teachers, and any BMI changes in individuals were accounted as a non-intentional by-product. Although the students in the experimental group showed improved motor control, and motivating factors from the teaching. This shows that teachers have no affect on student fitness as previously suggested, although motor skills and motivational levels develop significantly due to this method of teaching.

Therefore research has suggested that the end results are not necessarily due to the teachers, moreover due to the poor curricula implemented which is not generalizable to all of the students (Sallis et al, 1997) , teaching methods can also be a factor as competent teachers bring out the best results from their students motivation and motor control (Starc and Strel, 2010) although no physical gains can be related to teaching technique, showing that Luke and Sinclair’s (1991) findings from students are correct. The governments are again failing in providing a sufficient curriculum in PE, with it being classified as “no man’s land” and are avoiding interventions and expansion from traditional teaching (Carrizosa, 2010). Carrizosa (2010) states the importance of teachers distinguishing between sports and exercise. If this is not explained in PE classes then children will not distinguish the importance of exercise and will avoid participation in future. (Van Daalen, 2005; Ross, 1987; Sallis, 1997).




From researching into this final topic, we can obviously see major flaws in the curriculum across many countries regarding PE curricula and teaching, which can be generalized to the UK. There are many interventions needed to be implemented and additional training (possibly SPARK and Competent teaching) in order to increase exercise participation and enjoyment in school.  Students are seeing this problem, and so is the government, however no interventions have been made as of yet (5X60 has been successful in Wales although I’ve spoken much too much about this in previous blogs) that have been successful in the UK, as this area is classified as a “no man’s land” area in the school curriculum.



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




Ross, J. G. (1987). The National Children and Youth Fitness Study II. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 58(9), 49-96.


Sallis, J. F., McKenzie, T. L., Alcaraz, J. E., Kolody, B., Faucette, N., & Hovell, M. F. (1997). The effects of a 2-year physical education program (SPARK) on physical activity and fitness in elementary school students. Sports, Play and Active Recreation for Kids. American Journal of Public Health, 87(8), 1328-1334



van Daalen, C. (2005). Girls‟ experiences in physical education: Competition, evaluation, and degradation. Journal of School Nursing, 31(3), 115-121.




  1. te9192 says:

    This is more of an opinion but after watching the video you linked in, this only seems appropriate to students of a younger age. Although it looks fun and a lot of us (I know I would) would participate in a sports class like this, I don’t think that implementing this intervention woul dincrease the amount of students participating in

    • te9192 says:

      (I apologise the earlier message cut off :S)

      * PE in school. The Sallis et al paper you have stated only looks at the intervention in elementary children so I don’t think this can be linked to that of children of all ages. It is very age dependant on the type of intervention you put in place in order to ensure students continue to enjoy exercise. Also the method uses that of a self-report technique so children could be easily swayed to say that they do enjoy the exercise as they would be reacting to demand characteristics. I may be slightly biased in my opinion as I do enjoy exercise and always enjoyed PE in school, but I know others think differently. Could it be a matter of choice? Students that enjoy exercise could stick with the curriculum (more sports based) and those that do not enjoy sports participate in simple exercise based activities that don’t fit to a curriculum but they still gain the physical benefits from participation.

  2. rebeccaholder28 says:

    I found your sections on why pupils don’t engage in PE really interesting and was something I could relate to, the interventions you have mentioned are perfectly feasible and upon researching further I came across some research that provides further methods to which we could implement within education to encourage better engagement in PE. Mouratidis, Vansteenkiste, Lens and Sideridis (2008); Bindarwish & Tenenbaum (2006); and Gernigon & Delloye (2003) all researched whether positive competence feedback could increase performance, engagement and enjoyment in a PE class. The results from these studies found that strong positive feedback increased the students’ perceptions of their sporting competence, as well as higher levels of vitality and greater intentions to participate. However, despite this, interestingly the results also found that there were no increased effects on actual performance. It was concluded that positive feedback increases a person’s autonomous motivation as they want to do partake in PE because they enjoy it and find it interesting. So perhaps there was no increase in performance due to sport being more of a natural ability, after all it’s all about the taking part that counts, not the winning. This study shows that you can make PE more enjoyable and increase active engagement by simply offering positive feedback to students. This is a simple solution to the issue mentioned and highlights how it can benefit students.

    Mouratidis, Vansteenkiste, Lens and Sideridis (2008)http://www.selfdeterminationtheory. org/SDT/ documents/2008_MouratadisVansteenkisteEtAl_JSEP.pdf

    Bindarwish, J., & Tenenbaum, G. (2006). Metamotivational and contextual effects on performance, self-efficacy, and shifts in affective states. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 7, 41–56.

    Gernigon, C., & Delloye, J.B. (2003). Self-efficacy, causal attribution, and track athletic performance following unexpected success or failure among elite sprinters. The Sport Psychologist, 17, 55–76.

  3. psuc18 says:

    Hi David, interesting topic.

    I have previously read about the SPARK programme therefore I am familiar with what you are talking about in the first section of your blog and how this relates to the effect that teacher intervention has on the physical health of the pupils. SPARK was launched at schools (aimed to benefit children up to the 12th grade) in 1989 in order to tackle child obesity.

    Instead of directly intervening with the pupils, SPARK works by instructing the teachers on how to acquire the best out of their students physically. Therefore I agree that it is absolutely true that the teacher plays a huge role in the physical health of a child and I believe they should be aware of this responsibility especially when I learn that Luke and Sinclair (1991) found that the second most common factor for students not participating in PE classes was due to the teacher.

    I hope as SPARK develops and more evidence will demonstrate the importance of PE and the correlation between children’s attitude towards the subject and the motivation provided by the teacher, more action will take place in order to encourage more physical activity in schools today.

  4. lon03 says:

    For PE to be more effective they should get students more involved in what the physical activities are so they feel they have control over what they want to do instead of just forcing them to do what the teacher has picked. This would make PE more fun as the child would be having more fun doing something they love. Martials Arts has been suggested to be an effective way of learning important life skills as well as successful techniques that can improve their academic achievement (self-regulation). Martial arts has been can enhance body image (Guthrie, 1995), self-esteem (Duthie et al., 1978) as well as teaching discipline, respect (which could be helpful in a classroom situation) and self-control so I do believe it should be brought into the curriculum. Also I think that there should be a teacher that specialises in PE in primary schools as research suggests teachers are more motivated, enthusiastic and teach at a higher quality if they enjoy the subject.

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