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An exploration of task presentation characteristics of elementary physical education specialist and nonspecialist student-teachers in physical education instruction O’Connor, Angela


The purpose of this study is to describe the type of tasks and the characteristics of the tasks' presentation as displayed in physical education specialist and nonspecialist student teacher physical education elementary lessons and to identify if any differences exist between these groups. The participants in the study were three elementary specialist and three elementary nonspecialist student-teachers all undertaking their final 13 week practicum at elementary schools in one school district. All of the six student-teachers were assigned to intermediate classes of Grades 3 to 7 and were responsible for teaching physical education to their assigned class. An important component of task presentation is the teacher's development of content. This is achieved through the presentation of informing, extending, refining, repeating, and applying task types. Task type and task presentation characteristics such as the clarity, visual demonstration completeness, number, accuracy, qualitative nature of cues, appropriateness of pupil responses, and congruency of teacher feedback were described using The Qualitative Measures of Teaching Performance Scale (Rink and Werner, 1989). The QMTPS was used to analyze the three videotaped physical education lessons that each student-teacher taught in weeks five through nine of the practicum. Interviews with the student-teachers and observations of their teaching provided insights into the selection of task type and task presentation. All data were presented in six single case reports and regularities and patterns across cases were identified relative to task type and task presentation characteristics. Differences were found between physical education specialist and nonspecialist student teachers in task type and presentation characteristics. The specialists presented a range of task types and the nonspecialists displayed predominantly informing tasks. A higher number of refining and applying tasks were presented by the specialists. Time available in the lesson, the lesson format, the student-teachers' perception of the pupils’ skill level, the student-teachers' knowledge of the pupils' previous experience in the task, and the degree to which the content presented was based on the decision of others in the school played a significant role in accounting for the order and types of the tasks presented. A greater number of the specialists' tasks were supported by demonstrations and an appropriate number of cues. Reference to specific anatomical terms and biomechanical principles were evident in these cues. The teaching style of the student-teacher and the lesson format influenced the presentation of the tasks. Although the results of this multiple-case study cannot be generalized, the findings of the study indicate a need for a greater emphasis on content development and task presentation in physical education pedagogy courses in elementary teacher education programs. This will assist prospective teachers, both specialist and nonspecialist, to learn to present and develop appropriate strategies for the development of content in physical education classes.

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