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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Students' social experiences through inventing games Sandher, Kevin


Although small group work is often used as a pedagogical tool in physical education (PE), little is known about factors that affect the social experiences of the students, as reported from their own perspective as they work in a small group setting. The purpose of this research was to enable a number of grade eight male students to share their lived social experiences as they engaged in an Inventing Games (IG) unit. This study was framed within a wider study, conducted by the principal investigator (Dr. Joy Butler), and initiated under the auspices of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant in 2009. The goal of the larger project was to investigate how IG, an educational program in Physical Education (PE), can support the development and awareness of principles of ethical actions as they become manifest in situated and collaborative learning contexts (Butler, Hopper & Davis, 2009). My study focused on one group within my PE class. The students in the focus group shared their social experiences through journals and interviews over the course of an eight-session unit. I used a phenomenological approach to analyze the data and in the process I identified four themes: (a) inclusion within the decision-making process, (b) acknowledging ideas, (c) student-selected team selection process, and (d) relating the IG experience to “real- life.” These four themes became apparent through a process of applying a complexity thinking lens to examine the ways in which the focus group could be understood in terms of a complex adaptive system, and to identify the ways in which the conditions of complex emergence were established to allow for emergent learning within the group. This study has had an impact on my teaching practice and, in turn, could have implications for the wider PE community. For example, on the basis of valuable insights gained from the students in the focus group, I have achieved a better understanding overall of the social experiences of students as they engage in PE, and am consequently better equipped to look out for hidden negative social experiences that can occur in small group settings.

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