Essay on “What Questions Do the Tasks Raise for You in Enriching Your Understanding of Learning and Teaching?”

Published: 2021/12/06
Number of words: 5011

The first assessed task focused on ‘How motivation is improved by Outdoor Adventurous Activities (OAA)’. The reflection task, which was about Orienteering, amalgamates together examples of both theory and personal experience which could enhance and develop pupils’ motivation through the effective delivery of OAA.

It is important to understand what motivates young people. To gain an understanding of what they may be, in his detailed analysis of ‘Motivation’, Festau (2007) states that there are a plethora of characteristics which reflect the motivation of young people participating in outdoor activities. These include: fun, enjoyment, freedom, belonging to nature, achievement, support, uncertainty, challenge, initiative and demonstrating creativity. Rubens (1999) reaffirms this statement by emphasising that the prime instigator in ‘motivation’ is providing a motivational climate which encourages the pupils’ effort rather than just focusing on their ‘performance’. This view is supported by Abbott et al. (2002) who expand on this sentiment by arguing that ‘success’ is defined by skill development and not by ‘winning’. Experience has shown me the importance of keeping OAA fully interactive, which establishes a motivational atmosphere.

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Roark and Ellis (2009) articulate the self-determination theory which advocates competence, relatedness and autonomy as being the three factors most likely to increase ‘intrinsic’ motivation. Orienteering offers opportunities for the individual to take on a variety of tasks whilst also having the duality of giving people autonomy. Factors relating to ‘extrinsic’ motivation are more easily identifiable. For example, the teacher, coach or parent can be seen at the side of the pitch providing encouragement ‘extrinsically’ to their child. Lim and Wang (2008) further reinforce this by stating that, in PE, many students engage in the activities because they are told to do so by the teacher. What we say and how we say it are both important, I have used both a didactic and a more pupil centred approach in my teaching. On reflection, I have found it to be more of an educational enriching opportunity to be more pupil centred. in my teaching. Low and Kenyon (2009) conjecture that 64% of the best learning experiences happen outside the classroom. The task enabled me to highlight what Low and Kenyon have suggested and also the importance of my peers to critically reflect on the processes involved. Rickinson et al. (2004) found that there is some evidence that educational projects can improve a child’s physical well-being. I found that the importance of Orienteering is the navigation element, as those taking part seemed to naturally exert themselves.

Rubens’ (1999) study shows that team building activities are an appropriate medium for facilitating learning. Similarly, I put our class into three teams, which enabled a ’round robin’ of tasks. Each task that then followed highlighted the importance of motivation. Each group took part in 2 short team building activities: enabling them to feedback on what they did; how they could improve next time and show examples of theory relating to motivation. This approach was used to demonstrated both intrinsic and extrinsic examples. Kolb (1984) insists that the emphasis should be ‘how we learn’ as opposed to specific outcomes, which is the key differentiator between ‘experiential learning’ and traditional approaches such as command style, didactic teaching (Mosston, 1966). Empowering peers, by enabling them to use and understand more ‘pupil centred learning’ will create the motivational climate, further chances to experiment with this in team games are required. Retrospectively, the activities on the round robin ensured that learning was continuous and their variety provided a stimulus to focus and learn. Radak et al. (2013) studied evidence which shows that, by undertaking regular exercise, brain function can increase and structural, physiological and biochemical adjustment can occur through a period of moderately strenuous activity. Being outside allows pupils to stay more alert and focused for longer. This could be due to the environmental conditions but also due to physical activity and an increase of the oxygen supply to the brain. Kravitz (2009) exemplifies this by highlighting that, in his study, that seniors at high school, who do more exercise than their peers and took part in sports of seven or more hours, had higher grades than comparatively less active students. To enrich personal development and that of the learners requires an understanding of choosing the right environment to enhance the aforementioned factors. For instance, choosing an orienteering area to best develop navigation through peer or group work, this is an area which I intend to focus on in my final placement. Gardner’s (2007) investigation into ‘reflection’ shows that it could be seen as ‘thinking’ and something that we do naturally; however, the main weakness of the study is the amount of information that needs to be dissected. For example, one of the limitations with student X’s explanation is that he does not explain explicitly how to improve his performance. I believe that this made the task harder as I was not really sure how accurate the information was and it became a blind assessment.

Bailey (2001) observes that working in peer groups can challenge and stimulate learners. It could be argued that those participating in the assessed task may become comfortable with their peers, potentially distracting from the task. To combat this, tasks were short, with approximately three minutes allotted per activity for each team, this enabled more focus. There was also the additional activity of writing down learning points to share with the rest of the group. In a school environment, I would ensure that activities are set according to the group, for instance the gifted and talented are pushed and the less able are equally pushed but differentiated by doing a slightly easier course.

Social skills can be developed through a variety of ways; one key facet of interpersonal skills is ‘communication’. Communication has a direct link to motivation. Anghileri (1995) defines communication as being the confident use of language, which is demonstrated through a variety of formats including: talking; listening; reading and writing. Confidence can be shown through the effective use of communication. Ceiderquist et al. (2006) surmise that effective communication has positive benefits for all participants, which can lead to increased self-esteem and promote inclusiveness within the group. This task required participants to use effective communication by reflecting on what they did and then redoing the activity to identify progress. Martin and McCullagh (2011) highlight the importance of peer communication and its benefits. Rickinson et al. (2004) found that there is some evidence that educational projects can improve a child’s physical well-being. I found that the importance of Orienteering is the navigation element, those taking part seemed to naturally exert themselves.

Assessed Task 2

This task was centred on ‘Producing an orienteering pack and taking part in a peer review’. Within this task I produced three lessons and a Scheme of Work (SOW) for a Year 9 group.

The variety of practically based lessons gave me a multitude of ideas to teach orienteering in interesting and fun ways. The peer review provided an ideal opportunity to evaluate my peers’ teaching resources and give constructive feedback. Mortimer (2002) philosophises that publicly honouring academic achievement and stressing its importance encourages students to adopt similar norms and values. Feedback was also given verbally. The key points raised from this were:

  • Scheme of work, not enough information.

The SOW was basic, which gave an overview of a six week period. Attached to this were six in-depth lesson plans. Conversely, there may be some importance in having flexibility and the SOW does give the teacher the option to mould the lesson to their preferred learning outcomes. One issue that may arise from this is the lack of understanding a cover or supply teacher may have of the SOW. Although, if the SOW was used in conjunction with detailed lesson plans then this problem becomes iredundant.

  • Pacing of the lesson could be made more creative

The pacing of the lesson does require some inventive ways to ensure that the pupils develop in an atmosphere in which they want to learn. Unsurprisingly, Aun’s (1994) useful investigation highlights good teaching is measured by teachers’ success in creating an atmosphere where students are engaged and inspired to work hard. Visual aids are needed within the pack. This view is similar to Dillon et al. (2005) whose extensive research highlights four key processes that impact on outdoor learning, which concentrate on the effectiveness of the different resources in facilitating learning in outdoor contexts. For example, a diagram showing how to set out the pacing may give some direction.

Becker and Schirp (2008) describe the fundamental nature of reality and the individual’s willingness to face it, as the factors which produce the potential for adventurous experiences which could have advantageous pedagogical applications. As an outdoor practitioner, Orienteering is an area of OAA which continues to be developed. I am developing the pace of my lessons, which incorporates judging distances and using blind folds which enable the pupils to critically think about distances. One question that arises from the dissemination of delivery is the environment we can teach it in and the sense of amazement it may invoke in the children, which may contrast with how some pupils view the classroom. Becker and Schirp’s (2008) argument finds the importance of sensory experience, compared to school books, which can give children knowledge which is not attached to the concrete world. Teaching navigation is a real skill and in an environment which it can be used in (see page 4, unfamiliar environment), this skill is transferred to some of the major employers i.e. Emergency Services. Celestino and Pereira’s (2011) research shows that orienteering was founded around 1850 in Scandinavia and that it was essential training for war. With new interactive technologies and smart phones and location apps, it is possible that some people will become more reliant on this technology and navigation will become a ‘dying art’. However, as a 21st century teacher requires the ability to be forward thinking and to embrace Information Communication Technology (ICT), an argument could be raised that this requires the fundamental ability to use a map and compass. Advances in technology can be a helpful addition to navigational aids as they do not remove the two key components to travel safely in wild environments: the map and compass (Severin, 2012).

Assessed task 3

Gardner’s (2007) research into ‘reflection’ shows that it is something we do subconsciously. However, the main limitation of this study is the amount of information that needs to be analysed. For example, one of the problems with student X’s explanation is that he did not explain clearly how to improve his performance. I missed a practical lesson in the pool due to unforeseen circumstances. Consequently, I was not able to observe my peer (Student X), and I had to rely on their, possibly biased, view of their strengths and weaknesses. When student X was asked what his strengths and weaknesses were, he commented that front crawl was an asset and back stroke was a weaker area.

Fortunately, producing the poster did provide an opportunity to reflect on both strengths and weaknesses of student X and their swimming ability. The design of the poster highlighted the main teaching points relating to areas for improvement. Gangwer’s (2009) excellent investigation into critical visual thinking shows that identifying and evaluating visual evidence can allow the imagery in the mind’s eye to translate into visual language and enhanced psycho-motor skills. Previous experience has led me to conclude that having a variety of resources to help teach a complex skill such as ‘swimming’ will help to enrich the lesson.

The procedure still had a few imperfections. For instance, I was running a blind assessment. I may not have the correct teaching resources to help me, luckily, as a group there was a variety of resources which I could use. The whole process of this assessed task: observation, planning, presentation and practical has enabled me to critically reflect on the process, rather than the result.

Randelovic et al.’s (2012) ground breaking analysis on mastering movement patterns shows the development of knowledge of parameters and characteristics of their techniques and differences of their performance. Student X, however, presented certain drawbacks associated with ‘observation’ in swimming. For example, 50 per cent of the technique is carried out underneath the water, and the poster did not identify what the hand/arm was doing beneath the surface of the water, as well as the legs. Good observational skills is key in all modalities of physical education. Law and Hall (2009) found from their study that the defining factor in the development of expertise in a sport is the accumulation of 10 years, or approximately 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. Diagrams were used which broke the body into three key areas: body; arms and legs, enabling progression to be defined through three areas and give feedback, but also to enable the learner to understand and take ownership of their development. Similar to goal setting, the poster gave a stimulus and provided specific feedback to the subject. However, one major drawback could have been the accuracy of information, for instance front crawl could of in fact been a weakness, It is crucial when using whole – part – whole to have the initial observation.

Whole – Part – Whole was the teaching/coaching strategy which was used, observing the pupil and working on small areas before bringing it all back together. I intend to enrich my lessons by reverting back to this, as long as safety is covered. Subsequently, this initial time observing what the pupils can do becomes fundamental, Assessment for Learning (AfL) becomes embedded. Efficiency in coaching can build on my knowledge of the subject which could result in a considerable improvement in my practice. On reflection, I hope to use this Whole – Part – Whole in the teaching of other areas of the curriculum.

The value of peer assessment developed a deeper understanding, not only from the person delivering but also from the one giving feedback, I observed that everyone was on task and learning was in progress. Gardner’s (2007) investigation into ‘reflection’ shows that it could be seen as ‘thinking’ and something that we do naturally; however, the main weakness of the study is the amount of information that needs to be dissected. For example, one of the limitations with student X explanation is that he does not explain explicitly, how to improve his performance. I believe that this made the task harder as I was not really sure how accurate the information was and it became a blind assessment. An advantage for the practical swimming task was the small groups, which were easier to manage and recap on teaching points and resources. A disadvantage with the larger group is the amount of resources required, this would require extensive thought on the amount of resources, although AfL would give a base line on pupils abilities.

Personal reflection

Despite its exploratory nature, this study module has given me some insight into my own strengths and weaknesses within the areas of Outdoor and Adventurous Activities (OAA) and Swimming. It has taken me on a journey of self-discovery, enabling opportunities for me to form decisions formed on both existing and newly acquired knowledge and understanding. Capel et al.’s (2009) useful study of teaching highlights the journey of personal development for those on Initial Teacher Training (ITT) courses. Enriching my understanding through teaching and learning in both orienteering and swimming is continuous, I do have some knowledge but this continues to grow. Similar to the findings from Harvey (2010), who conducted a comprehensive investigation into both the coach’s knowledge and understanding, which are linked to the coach’s previous experience and how those skills were learnt. My base knowledge is greater in Orienteering than Swimming. However, when faced with large class sizes in Orienteering, a teacher needs the ability to differentiate within complex navigation tasks. This is in agreement with Wu’s (2013) findings which showed that effective differentiation required practitioners to think about how to apply multiple tasks effectively. Extending this further, Van Tassel-Baska (2012) points out that the importance of teachers to critically reflect and share knowledge on strategies to deal with those learners who present higher learning needs in large groups.

Ehiyazaryan-White’s (2012) timely investigation on ‘resources’ has highlighted the importance of having a bank of activities and constantly revising these to enhance the learner’s experience. Experience has shown that developing a resource bank can provide more opportunities to enhance lessons and aid not only with differentiation but also with pupil engagement. What I have learnt is that resources can be made for Orienteering and recycled, as well as taking into account time to set up your resources, and the management of these resources if left out permanently. The British Orienteering Federation (BOF), who are the governing body of the sport, provide a website, along with Ordnance Surve, which generates some further ideas. In swimming, a limiting factor is my experience of teaching it, my base knowledge needs to built on. In their comprehensive study into teaching, Capel et al. (2009) point out the importance of good resources which are used in lessons. A serious weakness with this argument, however, is the cost involved in resources for swimming. A viable option to keep costs down could be to hire equipment from the pool.

The design of the poster did enable me to highlight key teaching points to be used in the pool, more importantly, it is a transferable skill, like any teaching cards in lessons, they can still be used in the pool environment. One issue relating to using teaching cards in pools to cover differentiation, could be safety, which makes the position of the teacher critical. Experience in this area is ongoing and I hope to get the opportunity to develop in this area in the near future. From this module I identified the importance in having a variety of resources, for large groups, differentiation needs will be met and a sustainable learning environment would be fostered. My resources need to be developed and this is ongoing.

Block booking the pool may help keep costs down not just for the hire of pool and equipment but also transport costs. However, approaches of this kind carry with them various well known limitations and will not always be successful. Notwithstanding these limitations, Short (2010), gives numerous examples of schools which pay a subsidised amount for swimming and have the Local Education Authority (LEA) pay for transportation costs. Several limitations to this pilot study need to be acknowledged. For example, Ayrshire is a very rural area and relies quite heavily on subsidised school transportation already to bring the pupils into school. However, this should not prevent further investigation.

Drapeau (2012) reviewed data on coaching the mind and found a plethora of studies which demonstrated how sport psychologists can change the athletes’ perceptions and make improved results. These findings further support the idea of developing strategies to minimise those unwilling to take part. Issues to be considered, such as ‘what the pupil is thinking’, but not saying. Prior studies have noted the importance of Psychology. There are, however, other possible explanations that need to be taken into account, for instance: fear of water; body awareness; female menstrual cycle and medical conditions can all form barriers to learning. Experience has shown that those pupils who constantly forget to bring their PE kit or have unsubstantiated excuses for not taking part, could have underlying issues rather instead of them being labelled ‘lazy’. It is important to bear in mind that a tactile approach may be the most appropriate. A phone call to a parent/guardian to find a possible explanation may highlight the best approach to bring the child back into the activity without alienating them further.

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There is a consensus among the specialists (Besag, 2001; Holmes, 2006; School Manifesto, 2012), that epilepsy should not prevent a young person from swimming, constant monitoring is required and ideally the pupil should have some support in the water. An important view of this criticism of this is made by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) (2003) who state “The NUT advises teachers to be particularly wary of volunteering to carry out such procedures, given the potential for accusations of abuse”. This view made by the NUT refers to giving medication post incident and ensuring there is a member of staff there of the same gender as the child. However, this view from experience can hinder some teachers from actively promoting a sport/activity with the detriment of a reduced and less exciting curriculum.

Getting to know the community in which your school is located. For instance, Northern Ireland Assembly’s (2010) comprehensive examination study has highlighted that many educationalists and schools believe that it is important to engage the childrens’ parents and families in order to support pupils effectively in their education. This view shows the importance of links within the wider community forming working relationships which could open up further possibilities such as fund raising, reduction in hire of venues and reduction in transportation. Another finding raised by Weaver-Tilton et al. (2013) whose research showed that 80% of pupils lived in households with both biological parents, 15% lived with one biological parent and one other, and 5% lived in single parent households. This should be taken into account when providing lessons which cost extra and, where appropriate, Pupil Premium could be used to offset costs.


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Social Network Approach

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